Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has been cleared to fully participate in training camp, president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said on Thursday.
Leonard missed the entire 2021-22 season due to a torn ACL in his right knee. The five-time All-Star sustained the injury more than 15 months ago in the second round of the 2021 playoffs against the Utah Jazz.
Frank said the team will proceed slowly with the 31-year-old Leonard. Training camp begins Tuesday in Las Vegas.
“He feels great,” Frank said of Leonard. “His plan is, look, he wants to participate in everything. And I think organizationally, we’re going to be cautious. So it will be a step-by-step approach.”
The Clippers open the preseason with games in Seattle on Sept. 30 and Oct. 3. Frank wasn’t ready to forecast whether or not Leonard will play in Seattle.
“When you’re dealing with a major injury, you can’t predict,” Frank said. “I know with him, he wants to do everything, but we’ll just kind of let’s see how he feels each day. We have an outstanding medical team, and we’re playing the long game with it. So we’re not going to get into predictions, what he will do or he won’t do.
“… We’ll figure out, is that best for his body? One day it may be. The next day, we’ll have to reassess. We’ll rely on the feedback we get from Kawhi, obviously from the medical team. It’s too early to predict. We have time before we need to get there.”
Frank also stated that 32-year-old forward Paul George is 100 percent recovered from the elbow injury that limited him to 31 games last season.
“His elbow is 100 percent healthy,” Frank said of the seven-time All-Star. “Paul has had an extremely purposeful, driven, and very productive offseason, in that his consistency of training has been off the charts. Plus, he continues to take more and more of an ownership and leadership role.”
The Clippers open the regular season against the host Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 20.