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Kawhi Leonard out for Game 4, but still active, around team with advice

Kurt Helin and Corey Robinson analyze the rosters for the men's and women's USA Basketball teams, explaining why they'll be tough to beat at the Tokyo Olympics.

LOS ANGELES — Kawhi Leonard is out again for Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue confirmed on Friday. This is not a surprise, Leonard has been out since Game 4 of the last round against Utah with what the team has called a sprained knee but is reported to involve the ACL.

That means Leonard likely will once again watch the game from a suite at Staples Center with his family.

That move for Game 3 brought some criticism on NBA Twitter from people who thought he should be on the bench, in street clothes, both cheering on his team and offering advice and suggestions. That’s what Serge Ibaka of the Clippers has done (he is out with a back injury), it’s what Jamal Murray did while out in Denver, and it’s something many players choose to do.

What matters is not what anyone on Twitter thinks, it’s what his teammates think — and to a man they have talked about him being around physically at games and practices, and reaching out to them in texts.

While he may have been in a suite while the game was on Thursday night, he was down in the Clippers’ locker room at halftime of Game 3.
“He was just telling me rotations, what to look for, what’s open, what’s available,” Paul George said after the game. “It gave me a good game plan going into the second half for what to look for.”

That veteran presence is welcomed.

“Kawhi and Serge both have been great... Kawhi is just more, you know, everything: offense, defense, moving the basketball, how we can attack certain matchups, defensively how we can do different things on certain players,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said of Leonard’s advice. “So he’s always engaged on both ends....

“But having two veteran guys who have won championships and understand what it takes and both of those guys being out and just being still here for the team every single day, every practice, in the locker room before the games, after the games, has been huge for us.”