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Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant is hopeful Kawhi Leonard will be able to return from his knee injury soon.
“He’s an all-time great,” Durant told reporters after Saturday’s win over the Clippers. “He’s been through injuries before. He knows how to deal with his body. He knows his body better than anybody. The league is better, though, when Kawhi Leonard is playing. Definitely helped, it was easier not having him on the floor tonight as far as we need wins, but would love to see him back soon.”
Tomer Azarly @TomerAzarly
I asked Kevin Durant about Kawhi Leonard:
“He’s an All-Time great… The league is better when Kawhi Leonard is playing… I would love to see him back soon.” pic.twitter.com/BguW3qU6SG
The five-time All-Star missed the
entire 2021-22 NBA season because of a partially torn ACL in his
right knee, and he’s played sporadically during the early stages of
the current campaign as the team tries to manage his recovery.
“He’s frustrated,” Clippers
head coach Ty Lue told reporters after an Oct. 31 win over the
Houston Rockets. “He wants to be out on the floor and then not
being on the floor, and then now he can’t travel. He wants to travel,
but the doctor said it’s not the right thing to do right now with the
stiffness and what he is going through.”
When healthy, Leonard has averaged 12.5
points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals across two
appearances this season. He has not played since Oct. 23.
Getting the 31-year-old L.A. native back to full strength is essential if the Clippers are going to emerge as a championship contender. He owns two
previous NBA titles, one with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 and
another with the Toronto Raptors in 2019.
L.A. uses a variety of wing players to
fill the void whenever Leonard is sidelined. Norman Powell takes on
the biggest role, but Luke Kennard, Terance Mann and Amir Coffey are
among the other players who also see more consistent minutes.
Leonard and Paul George can be one of
the NBA’s best two-way tandems when both are in peak form,
but that hasn’t happened much over the
past couple of years because of injuries.
The Clippers will be a team to watch if the bad luck with health dissipates at some point in 2022-23.