The Clippers are among the favorites to be crowned champions this NBA season, but to be the last team standing, they'll need Kawhi Leonard back on the court.
The 31-year-old suffered a knee injury during LA's run to the Western Conference Finals in 2021. While the door wasn't shut on a return during the 2021-22 season, he never suited up.
The good news for LA? Now over a year removed from the injury, Leonard is good to go in 2022-23.
Leonard is one of the biggest stars in the NBA. In addition to five All-Star and All-NBA selections, he's a two-time champion with a pair of Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards. Those accolades helped him become one of only 11 active players named to the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team.
What's next for Leonard? Here's everything we know about his injury and what to expect this season.
What was Kawhi Leonard's injury?
In Game 4 of the 2021 Western Conference Semifinals, Leonard suffered a right knee injury on a drive to the basket. He told TNT's Rebecca Haarlow he'd "be good" after sitting the last few minutes of the game, but Leonard ended up missing the rest of the series and all of LA's matchup with Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals.
The Clippers listed Leonard as out with a right knee sprain for each game he missed.
With 5:25 remaining in the fourth quarter of Game 4 against the Jazz, Clippers star Kawhi Leonard tweaked his right knee.— KSL Sports (@kslsports) June 15, 2021
After the game, Leonard told TNT, “I’ll be good.”
Read more on the @kslsports app!#TakeNote #UTAatLAC #NBA
🎥: TNT pic.twitter.com/DJGcSQitCs
Not long after the Clippers were eliminated in the Western Conference Finals, the team announced that Leonard had undergone surgery to repair a partial tear of his right ACL. No timetable was given for his return.
Leonard was having a spectacular postseason prior to the injury, averaging 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game on 57.3/39.3/88.0 shooting splits.
How many games did Kawhi Leonard miss?
A return in the 2021-22 season was once considered a possibility for Leonard, but he ended up missing all 82 regular-season games.
Without Leonard, the Clippers went 42-40 and lost both of their matchups in the Play-In Tournament. Leonard didn't play in either Play-In game.
Is Kawhi Leonard on a minutes restriction?
It sounds like Leonard will be on a minutes restriction. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Clippers are "considering the possibility" of bringing him off the bench at the start of the season to manage his minutes.