Clippers Rumors

Injury Notes: George, SGA, Markkanen, Rozier, Oubre

Clippers star Paul George isn’t expected to play again during the regular season as he recovers from a right knee sprain, but he hasn’t been ruled for the postseason. Still, the Clippers recognize that they’ll likely need to win a few playoff games without George in order to have a chance to get him back in their lineup, Shams Charania of The Athletic said during an appearance this week on FanDuel TV (Twitter video link).

“The Clippers believe, I’m told, that they’re going to have to get out of at least the first round for a real window for Paul George to return,” Charania said. “So maybe second round, conference finals. You get out of the first round and you give yourself a chance to get Paul George back.”

At 41-36, the Clippers are currently the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference, so they may enter the first round without home court advantage. Winning a series on the road without their top scorer would be a tall order, but it may be L.A.’s only path to getting George back on the court this spring.

Here are a few more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (left ankle sprain) was originally listed as out for Friday’s game against Indiana (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman), but has since been upgraded to questionable (Twitter link via Andrew Schlecht of The Athletic). Gilgeous-Alexander, whose team still has a hold on the 10th spot in the West at 38-39, has missed the last two games due to that sprained ankle.
  • Another Western Conference All-Star, Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, will also remain sidelined on Friday, tweets Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. It’s the fourth time in the last five games that Markkanen has been ruled out due to a left hand contusion. A loss vs. Boston tonight might put the Jazz’s play-in hopes on life support — they’re currently at No. 12 in the West, 1.5 games back of Oklahoma City.
  • Hornets guard Terry Rozier will miss a fourth straight game on Friday vs. Chicago due to left foot discomfort, per Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Charlotte has just four games left after tonight, so it’s unclear whether we’ll see Rozier again this season. Kelly Oubre (right shoulder sprain), who has also been out for the last three games, has been upgraded to questionable for Friday.

Injury Updates: Randle, Clippers, Sixers, Wolves, Blazers

The Knicks received both good and bad news on Wednesday night versus Miami. The good news is point guard Jalen Brunson was able to play after missing the past two games with a sprained right hand, and the Knicks came away with an important victory (Twitter link via the team).

The bad news is power forward Julius Randle sprained his left ankle after landing on Bam Adebayo‘s foot following an offensive rebound (YouTube link), with Randle remaining on the floor for a while in pain. He stayed in the game to shoot free throws, but headed back to the locker room with a trainer.

Randle was able to limp off the floor on his own, but as soon as he was back in the team’s tunnel he was bent over in discomfort. The Knicks later ruled him out for the remainder of the contest (via Twitter).

Hopefully the injury isn’t severe, particularly so late in the season. Randle has appeared in all 77 games for the Knicks and was named to his second All-Star team last month.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Clippers star Kawhi Leonard was ruled out of Wednesday’s game in Memphis due to personal reasons, per Law Murray of The Athletic (Twitter links). Head coach Tyronn Lue said the team is hopeful Leonard will only be out one game. On a positive note, Norman Powell was able to return to action after missing the past 11 games with a shoulder injury — he was previously listed as questionable.
  • Sixers stars Joel Embiid (calf soreness) and James Harden (Achilles soreness) were active for Wednesday’s game vs. Dallas, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was the first to report the news (via Twitter). Embiid missed Monday’s loss in Denver with the injury, while Harden had missed four straight games.
  • The Timberwolves had several late additions to their injury report (Twitter link) ahead of tonight’s game in Phoenix. Kyle Anderson, Anthony Edwards, Taurean Prince, Austin Rivers and Matt Ryan are all dealing with an illness that head coach Chris Finch described as an “intestinal flu,” according to Chis Hine of The Star Tribune (Twitter link). Edwards and Anderson were able to suit up, but the Wolves later ruled out (via Twitter) the other three players as well as Jaylen Nowell, who continues to battle left knee tendinopathy.
  • In addition to four starters being held out with various injuries and surgeries sidelining a couple other players, the Trail Blazers added three young players to Wednesday’s injury report ahead of their matchup with Sacramento (Twitter link). Second-year guard Keon Johnson is out with a fractured right finger, while second-year big man Trendon Watford will miss his second straight game with a sprained right ankle. Fourth-year wing Cam Reddish is doubtful due to lumbar soreness.

L.A. Notes: Batum, Morris, Powell, D-Lo, Lakers, Schröder

Nicolas Batum is replacing Marcus Morris as the Clippers‘ starting forward and will stay in the role for the rest of the season, head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters, including Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times.

It was nothing that Marcus did wrong, just trying something different,” Lue said. “And when you’re not playing well, you want to try something different, and Marcus was all for it. We have to sacrifice if we want to win at a high level.”

As Greif writes, there’s less clarity about who will back up Batum. Morris and Robert Covington are the two primary options, and Lue was noncommittal on which player might have the edge. At least for the immediate future, Covington should receive playing time, as Morris has entered the league’s health and safety protocols and has been ruled out of Wednesday’s game in Memphis (Twitter link via ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk).

Here’s more on the two Los Angeles-based teams:

  • Clippers guard Norman Powell, who is questionable for Wednesday’s contest after missing the past 11 games with a left shoulder subluxation, will be reinserted into the rotation once he returns, Greif writes in the same piece. “We need him back. We need his juice. We need his scoring,” Lue said of Powell.
  • Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (hip) and big man Anthony Davis (foot) are probable to play in Wednesday’s game at Chicago, tweets Mark Medina of Forward LeBron James (foot) is questionable. Russell missed the past two games with his injury, while James just returned Sunday after a 13-game absence.
  • Guard Dennis Schröder, who is playing on a veteran’s minimum contract in his second stint with the Lakers, has provided a valuable spark all season long, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. “It’s a lot of energy, man. He plays with such a good passion. He’s energetic,” Davis said. “That’s how he plays, he’s scrappy and he saves a fastbreak, comes back down and draws a foul. He’s kind of another spark. Got the crowd into it. But that’s Dennis. That’s how he plays. … He’s leaving it all on the floor. Everyone is. I mean, the position that we’re in, you got to be able to leave it all on the floor, give 110%. And he’s giving like 150. He’s leaving it all on the floor, laying everything out on the line for us to get a win. And it’s contagious.”
  • Mirjam Swanson of the Southern California News Group is skeptical the Clippers and Lakers can make deep playoff runs in the West, noting that injuries have played a role in the two teams’ inconsistency. She believes the Nuggets, Grizzlies and even the Kings should be favored over the two L.A. teams due to their continuity.

Clippers Notes: George, Weaknesses, Morris

All-Star Clippers forward Paul George discussed his recent right knee sprain on a brand-new episode of his show Podcast P (YouTube video link).

According to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), George indicated that he is unsure of exactly when he will return for L.A. as the season winds down. He is expected to have the ligament reassessed during the final week of the regular season.

“I’m gonna do whatever I can do to shorten the [return] process,” George said, adding that he feared he had torn his ACL when he first went down with the injury.

There’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • Without George, the Clippers are kicking off a key week for their playoff standing. A 131-110 Saturday blowout at the hands of the Pelicans exposed some big weaknesses for the team, writes Law Murray of The Athletic. Pace and age are two noteworthy issues, Murray notes. “They’re generally a really good team in the half court defensively,” Pelicans guard CJ McCollum said. “Transition-wise, not so great. So we just tried to get out and run, get stops, and create easy baskets.”
  • The Clippers have revealed that forward Marcus Morris will miss tonight’s game against the Bulls with an illness, Greif reports (via Twitter).
  • In case you missed it, Rory Maher of Hoops Rumors recently unpacked the Clippers’ three-team trade to reacquire their own 2008 lottery pick, Eric Gordon.

Better Starts Required For Strong Finish

  • The Clippers have lost three of their last five games, including a 21-point defeat administered by New Orleans. The Pelicans controlled the game from the start and Kawhi Leonard left the game in the third quarter with a facial bruise after being elbowed. The Clippers play four games in six games, beginning on Monday night, and need a strong finish to avoid the play-in tournament, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes. “It’s tough to dig yourself a hole and try to climb out every single night,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “We got to be better starting games.” Leonard is probable to play on Monday, Greif tweets.

Russell Westbrook Serving As Mentor: Conflicting Reports On Tyronn Lue's Future

  • Russell Westbrook has taken on a mentorship role since signing with the Clippers, according to Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. Westbrook’s main students are young guards Terance Mann and Bones Hyland, who are eager to learn from a future Hall of Famer. “I got so much love and just, just everything for Russ, man. I love watching him play, his energy,” Hyland said. “… He gives it his all. So just being alongside Russ, I learned so much and he’s always in my ear telling me the good things, what he sees out there for me. I’m glad to be a teammate alongside Russ.”
  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue could “remove himself” from the team if things don’t go well in the playoffs, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports suggested in the first episode of his “No Cap Room” podcast. However, sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that Lue, who has multiple years left on his contract, hasn’t engaged in any discussions with management about an early exit.

PG Unlikely To Play In First Round? Plus Who Needs To Step Up In His Place

  • The Clippers were glad that Paul George avoided a major injury when he sprained his knee. He’s expected to be reevaluated in two-to-three weeks, but if the Clippers clinch a top-six seed and a berth in the playoffs, George potentially returning in a first-round series is considered “optimistic,” according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Eric Gordon will start in George’s stead for the rest of the season, Youngmisuk writes.

Paul George Sprains Knee, Out At Least 2-3 Weeks

1:42pm: George has a sprained right knee and will be reevaluated in about two or three weeks, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). The team has confirmed Wojnarowski’s report.

There are just two-and-a-half weeks left in the regular season, and Woj says (via Twitter) that George isn’t expected to play in any of the Clippers’ nine remaining games. Once he’s reevaluated, his timeline for a potential postseason return will be clearer, Woj adds.

7:55am: Clippers forward Paul George suffered an apparent right leg injury during the fourth quarter of the team’s loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday and left Arena on a cart with his leg extended, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

It’s not yet clear how significant George’s injury might be. Head coach Tyronn Lue said after the game that he didn’t have any immediate updates, adding that the 32-year-old was still being evaluated. However, it didn’t look good in real time.

The injury occurred with about 4:40 left in the fourth quarter. After Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed a jump shot, George and Thunder forward Luguentz Dort went up for the rebound and their legs appeared to collide. George landed awkwardly and fell to the floor in obvious pain (video link). He stayed down for several minutes, then required assistance to walk to the locker room.

It’s unfortunate timing for George and the Clippers, who had been playing some of their best basketball of the season in recent weeks. Entering Tuesday’s game, they’d won five of their last six contests and George had talked recently about feeling good physically after dealing with a right knee issue last month.

While the hope is that the injury will end up being a minor one, Clippers forward Nicolas Batum said the team will be prepared to continue its playoff push with or without the eight-time All-Star.

“We have players and Norm (Powell) is coming back pretty soon,” Batum said. “We obviously miss our teammate, (but) we still got a good coach, good team. Of course, PG is a huge key for us. If we have to go through some time without him, we just have to go out there and win some games.”

Leonard Believes Team Could Be Special

  • The Clippers have won five of their last six games, moving up to fifth place in the Western Conference. Kawhi Leonard believes the club could have a special playoff run, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes. “It’s a feeling when you know you have a great team,” he said. “It’s not always [leading] to a championship, it’s just about you knowing that everybody’s on the same page. It’s just a continuous motion. It’s hard to explain. Yeah, there’s something special. You got to feel it, and then you’ll know.”

Dan Craig Get Win In Place Of Ailing Tyronn Lue

  • Associate head coach Dan Craig picked up his first win guiding the Clippers Sunday night, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Craig was filling in for head coach Tyronn Lue, who was able to coach the team on Saturday, but didn’t make the flight to Portland because of a non-COVID illness. Craig said Lue is expected “back soon.”