We’ll try again next year, Clips.Image: Getty Images
After advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time last season, this year has been an up and down struggle for the Clippers with key players in and out of the lineup. Kawhi Leonard hasn’t played a game yet this season after tearing his ACL in the second round of the playoffs against Utah last year. And now the Clippers have learned they could be without their other star player, Paul George, for the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign.
In late December, George suffered a torn elbow ligament and has been sidelined ever since. The Clippers initially announced that he’d be re-evaluated in three to four weeks, but now it sounds like they may be without PG-13 for the rest of the year.
With George’s status now up in the air, Kawhi Leonard’s return should also be pushed onto the back burner until the team knows more about PG’s status. Bleacher Report reported last week that there is a “strong possibility” of Leonard returning to the Clippers roster this season.
Leonard’s return from the ACL injury isn’t likely to change the Clippers’ standing in the West without George on the court. They’re currently in seventh place, tied with the Lakers at 21-21. With George in the lineup, they were able to stay afloat in the top six of the conference through December.
A Leonard return in March or April won’t be enough to jump-start this team past the top teams in the western conference. Phoenix, Golden State, Memphis, and Utah are all better than the Clippers. Kawhi coming back knocking the rust off over the first couple of weeks won’t be enough for the Clippers to advance in the postseason.
Leonard’s injury history and the fact he’s in no hurry to return until he feels he is 100% healthy are well documented. So, even if Kawhi says he’s ready, the Clippers should sit him down for the year if George can’t return at near 100% this season. So, if it looks like George isn’t going to be back before the end of March, then I’d go ahead and shut both guys down and look to next year.
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