The Clippers are just a game above .500, but they’re willing to give Kawhi Leonard all the time he needs to start playing again, writes Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. Leonard participated in a five-on-five workout Friday for the first time since experiencing right knee soreness on October 23. Although that’s an encouraging sign, his teammates don’t want to rush him back into the lineup.
“I’m excited to get him back whenever he’s ready,” Paul George said. “Nobody here wants to put added pressure on his return. His return is his return. Like I’ve been saying, we got a job to do and that’s to continue to play ball, win games, compete. When he’s ready, he’s ready, but that’s his timetable, not ours.”
Leonard, who missed all of 2021/22 while recovering from a torn ACL, has only been able to play in two games this season. Kevin Durant, whose Nets won in L.A. this afternoon, said Leonard understands what he needs to do to get healthy.
“He knows how to deal with his body,” Durant said. “He knows his body better than anybody. The league is better though, when Kawhi Leonard is playing.”
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- After missing Friday’s game with a left adductor strain, Lakers star LeBron James has been upgraded slightly for Sunday but still remains doubtful, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. With James sidelined, coach Darvin Ham said “self-inflicted mistakes” cost L.A. in a loss to the Kings, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The Lakers committed numerous turnovers and defensive mistakes in the closing minutes of both halves. “We’ve just got to get some wins, especially in the West,” Anthony Davis said. “Every team is good. Got a lot of basketball left but we dug ourselves a hole. So we’ve got to put some wins together, got to start winning — ASAP. Try to stay positive, obviously. The energy around our locker room feels like 2-10, as it should. But we’ve got to start putting wins together immediately.”
- Malik Monk, who left the Lakers for the Kings in free agency, has been a good fit in Sacramento, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. L.A. wasn’t able to offer Monk more than the taxpayer mid-level exception, so he signed with the Kings for $9.5MM. “People probably may not look at him like this because he’s so young, and he’s bounced around as a young guy, but he knows how to lead,” coach Mike Brown said. “He uplifts the group. He’s fun-loving. He’s always messing with somebody, and guys really, really enjoy that, and you need that when you’re together as much as we are.”
- The Warriors should consider trading third-year center James Wiseman, who doesn’t fit the team’s style of play and isn’t ready to be part of a championship contender, argues Nekias Duncan of Basketball News.