Clippers' Kawhi Leonard misses G4 with knee inflammation

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Sunday, April 28, 2024

DALLAS --LA Clippers starKawhi Leonard missed Game 4 against theDallas Maverickson Sunday because of the troublesome inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee.

Leonard, who gutted out 25 minutes but did not look like his normal self in a Game 3 loss Friday, will not return to action until he is able to show that he can move the way he needs to, Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said Sunday.

"It was very obvious that is not Kawhi Leonard," Frank said of Leonard's movements.

With two days before Game 5 on Wednesday and then only one day of rest before Games 6 and 7, Leonard's return in this series is unknown. Dallas leads the best-of-seven series 2-1 entering Sunday's game.

"He's extremely disappointed and frustrated," Frank said nearly two hours before the game. "It was obvious in Game 3 that his mobility was severely restricted. Organizationally, we made a decision that he's out.

"The obvious question is, 'When's he coming back?' I can't tell you a timeline. I wish I had a crystal ball. Basically, until he can show that he can make all the movements that he needs to make, that's when he'll come back. That will be the timeframe."

The Clippers, who won Game 1 without Leonard, startedAmir Coffey in Leonard's place.

This is Leonard's third straight postseason in which he has had to deal with injuries. Last postseason, Leonard played in the first two games of the first round against Phoenix before a meniscus tear in his right knee ended his season.

In 2021, Leonard tore his right ACL in Game 4 against Utah in the second round. That injury resulted in him missing the entire 2021-22 season.

Frank said Leonard underwent imaging testing and his ACL and meniscus and ligaments are intact. The Clippers were happy with what they saw from Leonard's movements in Game 2, when he returned after missing three weeks of action because of inflammation. He played 35 minutes and scored 15 points.

But the following night, Leonard experienced swelling in his knee, Frank said. The Clippers tried to play Leonard differently in Game 3, limiting his minutes.

"When you watch him play in Game 3, every movement was very, very restricted," Frank said. "We saw that and he is disappointed and upset that he is not playing today. Until he can do the movements that he needs to do on a basketball court, we are going to hold him out.

"All I know is, he's going to need time. When can he come back? When he can show consistently that he can make all the movements that he can make. Like if he can't duplicate what he did in Game 2 from just a movement standpoint, then he is not ready to come back. That his body is telling us something and we need to listen to it."

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