Returns from major issues can often lead to injuries in a related area (e.g. ankles and knees), but Leonard’s new injury could be a completely separate injury. Either way, it’s yet another setback in a return from injury that has now lasted 526 days and counting.
Kawhi Leonard’s return has been start-and-stop for Clippers
Leonard first went down with the ACL tear in the 2021 playoffs. Even by the standards of ACL tears, which often require a year for a player to return to the court, Leonard’s return has been slow.
Clippers fans spent much of last season waiting for him return to the court, up until the end of the team’s season. Leonard missed all of last year while rehabbing the ACL tear (not the first time he’s had a hazy injury timeline), but it seemed reasonable to hope he’d be ready for this season.
The good news was Leonard was indeed on the court for the Clippers’ season opener. The bad news is he only came off the bench as the Clippers took things as slow as possible, sat out the second game, then was sidelined indefinitely after coming off bench in his third game.
Leonard ended up missing 12 games due to issues with his recovering knee but returned last week, as a starter. Even then, he never played more than 25 minutes in a game, and now he could have to miss more time due to the ankle sprain.
Leonard is far from the Clippers’ only injured player (Paul George and Luke Kennard were ruled out in the same injury report), but his progress has been the team’s greatest obstacle in getting healthy.