LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has given permission for full participation, but the team must take a ‘cautionary’ approach


r916194 600x400 3 2 LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has given permission for full participation, but the team must take a 'cautionary' approach

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. — Kawhi Leonard has been cleared to fully participate in training camp next week, but the LA Clippers will proceed with a “step-by-step” caution.

Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said Leonard’s first 5-on-5 participation will be in camp, which begins next Tuesday in Las Vegas.

“He’s feeling good,” Frank said at the team’s practice facility. “His plan, look, he wants to participate in everything. And organizationally, I think we’re going to be cautious. So it’s going to be a gradual approach.”

Frank later added: “He was cleared. For him, he would say, look, I want to do everything. Again, we’ll be very cautious in approach.”

Leonard missed all of last season while recovering from a torn right ACL suffered in Game 4 of the second round against the Utah Jazz on June 14, 2021.

After three days of practice at UNLV, the Clippers will travel to Seattle, where they will play their first two preseason games on September 30 and October 3. Frank has yet to say if Leonard will play in the preseason. The team will take it day by day and follow Leonard’s advice.

“When you’re dealing with a major injury, you can’t predict,” Frank said. “I know with him, he wants to do everything, but we’ll see how he feels every day. We’ve got a great medical team and we’re playing the long game with it. So we’re not. He’s going to get into predictions about what he will or won’t do.

“… We’ll find out, is that best for his body? One day it might be. The next day, we’ll have to reevaluate. We’ll trust the feedback we get from Kawhi, obviously from the medical team. It’s too early to predict. We have time before we get there. .”

Frank also said that Paul George’s torn UCL in his right elbow is completely healed. George missed three months with an injury last season before returning for five games late in the regular season. He played in the Clippers’ first play-in game, but missed the second and final play-in game due to health and safety protocols.

“His elbow is 100 percent healthy,” Frank said. “Paul had a very purposeful, driven and very productive off-season in which the consistency of his coaching was off the charts. And, he’s taking on more and more of an ownership and leadership role. You know, he had a lot to do to get John Wall here.”

George and Leonard organized the players’ workouts in the offseason in San Diego and Santa Barbara. One player who has been a constant presence in workouts is Wall, who signed with the Clippers in the offseason. Will compete with former All-Star Reggie Jackson for the starting point guard spot.

The Clippers will be one of the deepest teams in the league this season, and that depth will help if they are to move Leonard back at a cautious pace.

“Basically, Kawhi has played a lot of controlled basketball for a long time,” Frank said. “Even though 5-on-5 is seen as a yardstick for normal people, it’s more complicated than that. Ultimately, he’s moving toward playing NBA basketball, so he’ll continue to take those steps. Camp.”

Frank added: “We know what the big picture is. We know what our goal is and we will be very cautious and take a methodical approach.”


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