Kawhi Leonard still battling inflammation, remains questionable

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Friday, April 19, 2024

LOS ANGELES --LA Clippers All-Star Kawhi Leonard still has inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee, and his status is questionable for Game 1 against the Dallas Mavericks.

Lawrence Frank, LA Clippers president of basketball operations, said Leonard has yet to go through contact before Thursday's practice. Frank said Leonard's right knee, which has undergone surgeries to repair a torn ACL and meniscus, is structurally "solid and intact" but that the Clippers franchise star is experiencing "some very, very stubborn inflammation."

"He's doing everything," Frank said of Leonard treating his knee. "Our medical staff is doing everything to get the inflammation down so he can play. Progress has been made, but more progress needs -- the inflammation needs to continue to reduce so he can do functional basketball movements."

Frank added, "There is no gamesmanship here and we're very sensitive of the fact that questions are going to be asked and want to be as transparent as possible. It's OK to say what the truth is. It's unpredictable. We're hoping it's trending in the right direction. It's a very accurate statement. When it gets to a point where he's able to play, then that's when he'll be back on the court."

Frank said there's still a couple of days before Sunday's Game 1 to get Leonard ready for the start of the postseason. Leonard, though, has not played in a game since March 31 and missed the last eight games of the regular season.

"So in terms of based on where we're heading, is it possible he could play?" Frank said Thursday. "Sure, it's possible. It's Thursday. With each day we'll know more and more."

Asked whether Leonard had an injection to help with inflammation, Frank said he would not go into any details about any specific treatments.

Frank said Leonard has gone through all the mental portions of practice from film study to personnel but had been kept out of the contact portions.

"Obviously if he's not healthy to play at a certain moment then he won't be out there," Frank said. "Since Kawhi's tenure, when Kawhi is healthy, he plays. And some things you can't control, regardless of how meticulous he is with his body and everything that goes into playing. You can only control what you can control and you kind of got to surrender to the things you can't.

"We would never put Kawhi or anyone on the court if there's grave risk or there's risk for future injury. We're hopeful that this inflammation will get reduced and he'll be back on the court as quickly as possible. But you can't predict something that's unpredictable."

Leonard underwent surgery in July 2021 to repair a torn ACL he suffered in his right knee during a second-round series against Utah. And then in June, Leonard underwent a cleanup procedure to repair a torn meniscus suffered in the same knee during last season's first round against Phoenix.