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Report: “Strong possibility” Kawhi Leonard could return to Clippers this season

Gervonta Davis v Isaac Cruz

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 05: Kawhi Leonard attends the WBA World Lightweight Championship title bout between Gervonta Davis and Isaac Cruz at Staples Center on December 05, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

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This could shake up the West playoffs.

Kawhi Leonard’s rehab from a torn ACL is ahead of schedule and there is a “strong possibility” he could return this season, Chris Haynes reported on TNT Thursday night.

The Clippers are currently without both Leonard and Paul George, who is sidelined until at least near the end of January and maybe longer with an elbow injury.

With their core duo healthy, the Clippers would be a threat to come out of the West. They have a pair of elite two-way wings that are a difficult matchup, and Leonard has proven he can be the best player on a title team twice (he’s got two Finals MVPs to prove it). They are surrounded by a solid and versatile group of role players that give coach Tyronn Lue options.

How close to peak Leonard the Clippers would get this postseason remains to be seen. Leonard partially tore his ACL last playoffs and had surgery on in it July. On a traditional timeline, that would have Leonard back on the court around the end of the season, but it would likely be longer until he looked like his All-NBA self again.

Leonard foreshadowed this report, saying he signed a four-year, $176 million extension with the Clippers last offseason in part because he wanted the security so he could push for a return. Now it looks like he may, and the West just got a little more interesting.