KAWHI LEONARD

2/20/22, 8:15 PM

Updated:

Is Kawhi coming back? The question - like Kawhi - is complicated, but Natwa (@fantasydocs) and I lean towards no. Here’s why:

(1) Kawhi tore his ACL in July, so he’s now 7 months into recovery. Earliest possible clearance is at 6 months, but NBA players average 10. Coming back too early puts him at risk for re-tearing or even injuring his other knee. 10 months would mean a May return, and it’s pretty uncommon to see a player miss a whole season and try to jump straight into the most high-intensity games of the year.

(2) Kawhi’s history. We don’t know exactly what happened behind the scenes in San Antonio, but we know it involved distrust between Kawhi and the Spurs medical team that stemmed from them clearing him when he didn’t feel mentally/physically ready. That incident, plus Kawhi’s well-known history of load management, together give us the impression that Kawhi won’t tend to be aggressive about his return timeline.

(3) Paul George and the 8 seed. PG has been out, and the Clippers have since fallen to borderline playoff team status. They’re currently sitting at 8th, meaning they’re looking at an opening round against the Suns. Even if they improve slightly, they’re facing the Warriors or Grizzlies. Realistically, are you expecting to beat any of those 3 teams without giving Kawhi and PG13 a re-acclimation period to get their chemistry back and knock off the rust? Probably not.

If we’re advising Kawhi, @fantasydocs and I are in agreement - sit out this year, and let’s see you back near full strength to start the ’22-23 season.