Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard Still Battling Knee Inflammation, Questionable For Game 1 Against Mavericks

We independently review everything we recommend based on our strict editorial guidelines. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn More
Clippers Kawhi Leonard Still Battling Knee Inflammation, Questionable For Game 1 Against Mavericks

Los Angeles Clippers forward 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, Clippers president of basketball operations, said Leonard has yet to go through contact before Thursday’s practice. Leonard had undergone surgeries to repair a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee.

Referring to a few NBA betting sites, the Clippers hold third-shortest odds to win the championship. Sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets.

Frank added that Leonard’s knee remains structurally “solid and intact” but that the six-time All-Star is experiencing “some very, very stubborn inflammation.”

“He’s doing everything,” Frank said of Leonard’s rehabilitation. “Our medical staff is doing everything to get the inflammation down so he can play. Progress has been made, but more progress [is needed]. The inflammation needs to continue to reduce so he can do functional basketball movements.

“There is no gamesmanship here. 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.”

Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard (right knee) questionable ahead of Game 1 against Dallas Mavericks

Although Game 1 is Sunday and Leonard has time, he has not played in a game since March 31 and missed the last eight games of the regular season. The 12-year veteran dropped 30 points at Dallas in the last matchup on Dec. 20.

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

When asked whether Leonard had an injection to help with inflammation, Frank said he would not go into any further details about additional treatments.

Frank said Leonard has participated in the mental stages of practice, such as film study and personnel review. However, Clippers coach Ty Lue had kept the San Diego State product out of contact drills.

“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.”

Kawhi Leonard underwent surgery in July 2021 to repair a torn ACL he suffered in his right knee during a second-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz. Last June, the 6-foot-7 wing underwent a “cleanup procedure” to repair a torn meniscus suffered in the same knee during last season’s first-round matchup with the Phoenix Suns.

According to the injury report, Leonard is the only Clippers player listed for Sunday’s game.

NBA sportsbooks show the Clippers as 1-point underdogs against Dallas ahead of Game 1. Per ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, Los Angeles holds a 56.8% chance of defeating the Mavericks.