Report: Kawhi Leonard out for Game 5, likely much longer with ACL sprain
After Kawhi Leonard sat out the final 4:35 of the Clippers’ Game 4 win on Monday, he was asked about his apparent knee injury and said, “It’s good. Next question.”
It turns out it’s not good, and the next question is how much longer the Clippers will survive in this series without him.
Leonard is out for Game 5 at least and potentially more games with a right knee sprain, the team announced on Wednesday afternoon. The story was broken by Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN but the team has since come forward with more details.
The Clippers believe this is an ACL sprain, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The severity and location of the sprain will determine how long he is out and what the treatment would be, but very few ACL sprains have avoided surgery, reports Jeff Stotts of In Street Clothes.
Leonard is still expected to opt-out of his $36 million contract for next season and sign a longer-term deal with the Clippers, it’s unlikely — but possible – this changes that equation. For the Clippers, they don’t free up money to get another star if he leaves, they will look to re-sign him.
Leonard is averaging 30.4 points per game these playoffs, shooting 39.3% from 3. The Clippers have outscored opponents by 3.2 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court this postseason. At the end of the regular season Terance Mann got the starts when Leonard was out, that is likely the case in Game 5.
This leaves the Clippers with Paul George as their primary shot creator and scorer for this series, and while he is capable — he is an All-NBA player — it is likely not enough against a deep and talented Jazz team that had the best record in the NBA this season.
That Jazz team is dealing with its own injuries — Mike Conley is out for Game 5 and Donovan Mitchell’s ankle is still bothering him, which has slowed the All-Star scorer.
Game 5 is Wednesday night in Utah, Game 6 back in Los Angeles on Friday.