Kawhi Leonard’s return from his ACL tear seems to be getting more complicated by the day. He suffered the original tear back in June 2021 and underwent surgery the following month. An ACL tear can take anywhere from 9-12 months to fully heal, so it was no surprise that he missed the entire 2021-2022 season. After ramping up in the offseason and training camp, Kawhi was able to play in two of the Clipper’s first three regular season games. But he hasn’t played since.
Kawhi’s last game was on October 23rd and there doesn’t seem to be a firm timetable for return in sight. He has been labeled as dealing with “stiffness” on the injury report, which could mean a multitude of things. While it seems unlikely at this point, he could be dealing with a cartilage or meniscus injury. More likely is that Kawhi is dealing with scar tissue build up, or muscle tightness and inflammation.
There is a bit of good news: Kawhi has progressed to participating in 5-on-5 drills in practice. That means he’s trending in the right direction, but there is still cause for concern given he is about 16 months removed from the initial injury.
If Kawhi returns before he is 100%, he could experience a lack in explosiveness, as well as difficulty with cutting and jumping, all things that the former Defensive Player of the Year relies upon heavily. Kawhi has dealt with lingering injuries before that turned into multi-year ailments, including a quad injury that kept him out for large periods in 2017 and 2018. Let’s hope this ACL tear doesn’t turn into another injury saga.