Kawhi Leonard has a reputation for being sparse with words, but he has been much more vocal at Clippers practices since training camp began, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Coach Tyronn Lue believes it’s because Leonard is excited to be back on the court after missing all of last season with a knee injury.
“Just having a voice and showing these guys, like in the scrimmage the other day at USC [on Thursday], [guys] started out messing around and he pulled the guys in and said, ‘Let’s play for real and let’s tighten it up,’ and guys started playing more serious,” Lue said. “I don’t think he would have done that two or three years ago. I think with him and PG [Paul George] just having the biggest voices on the team and knowing that this is their team, he’s definitely taken huge steps in that regard.”
The Clippers don’t want to be overly cautious with Leonard as they prepare him for the regular season. He played 16 minutes in Monday’s game, and Lue plans to use him again Sunday night against the Timberwolves.
“I know he wants to get a lot of reps in because he hasn’t played in 15 months,” Lue said. “So, he wants to get a lot of reps in, play as much as he can. So that’s why every day in practice, we’ve been scrimmaging a lot, just playing. Just trying to let him get his rhythm.”
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- In an interview with Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee, De’Aaron Fox expressed confidence that the Kings have made the necessary changes to break their long playoff drought. After adding Domantas Sabonis at last season’s trade deadline, Sacramento brought in Mike Brown as head coach, signed Malik Monk and traded for Kevin Huerter over the offseason. “We’re going to be a team that can score the ball,” Fox said. “I don’t think that will be a problem. Even if we’re not shooting well, we have guys that can touch the paint, get open shots, get offensive rebounds. We have guys who are athletic enough to do those things, but at the end of the day we have to be able to stop people. I think we have the personnel that can do it, and we also have a coach who’s going to demand it, so I think that’s great for us.”
- Suns coach Monty Williams underwent lens replacement surgery after it was strongly suggested by Chris Paul‘s mother, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I was talking to my brother the other day, he was watching the game and said it was actually weird to see Monty not squinting,” Paul said. “It is crazy to see him not squinting, but we’ve been talking to him about that for years.”
- Suns guard Josh Okogie is dealing with a strained left hamstring, but he hasn’t given up hope of playing before the preseason ends, Rankin tweets.