Kawhi Leonard Cleared, But Clippers Will Remain Cautious

Kawhi Leonard, who missed all of last season for the Clippers while recovering from a torn ACL, has been cleared to be a full five-on-five participant in next week’s training camp, but president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank says the team will remain cautious with its star forward, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

He feels great,” Frank said at the team’s practice facility. “His plan is, look, he wants to participate in everything. And I think organizationally, we’re going to be cautious. So it will be a step-by-step approach.”

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

Frank said it’s a balancing act between allowing Leonard to compete and preserving his health.

There’s constant communication with seeing where he’s at,” Frank said, per Mark Medina of NBA.com. “The toughest thing is when a guy really, really wants to go ahead and try to do everything. You just assess it and just have those conversations. What everyone can agree on is, ‘What is the goal? So, what’s the best way to get there?’ If it’s close, you exercise some caution when you’re coming back from a serious injury like this.”

According to Youngmisuk, Frank was noncommittal when asked whether Leonard would play in preseason games, saying the team plans to take it one day at a time.

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 just kind of let’s see how he feels each day. We have an outstanding medical team, and we’re playing the long game with it. So we’re not going to get into predictions, what he will do or he won’t do.

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

Frank also says Paul George‘s right elbow is fully healed, and the star forward is developing into more of a leader. George missed three months with a torn UCL in 2021/22 prior to returning at the end of the season.

His elbow is 100 percent healthy,” Frank said, per Youngmisuk. “Paul has had an extremely purposeful, driven, and very productive off-season, in that his consistency of training has been off the charts. Plus, he continues to take more and more of an ownership and leadership role. You know, he had a lot to do with getting John Wall to come here.”

It won’t just be Leonard that the team is cautious with. The Clippers have championship aspirations and plan to rely on their depth, so periodic rest could be a store for a number of veterans throughout the season, as Andrew Grief of The Los Angeles Times relays.

We want our guys to be able to be at their best when their best is needed, which is, you know, April, May and June,” Frank said. “So to be able to give some of those heavy load carriers [rest] where they’re not overtaxed at that time, yet there’s enough continuity that there’s rhythm there.”

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