The poor Los Angeles Clippers have no luck. In 2019, they acquired what appeared to be the perfect tandem in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Clippers are currently the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and tied 1-1 with the Phoenix Suns in a first-round playoff series. On Thursday night at home, they will be without both George and Leonard.
ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk reported that Leonard will be out for Game 3 with a sprained knee. It is the same knee in which Leonard suffered a torn ACL during the 2021 playoffs. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Leonard’s current injury is not related to the previous one.
George has been out of the lineup since late March after suffering a knee injury. There is no definitive timetable for his return, but he is expected to remain in street clothes for the entire first round.
The Clippers are stymied by injury again
In 2019, the Clippers were one of several teams who went all in to attempt to build a championship roster on the fly. They traded likely 2022-23 NBA All First-Team guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and five unprotected first-round draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for George. The Clippers signed Leonard shortly afterwards. The Los Angeles Lakers traded away starters and picks to acquire Anthony Davis. The Brooklyn Nets signed Kevin Durant.
So far the moves have only paid off for the Lakers, who won the muted bubble championship of 2020 — and have produced more drama than winning since. Durant currently plays for the Suns, and the Clippers are stuck. The only postseason in which George and Leonard have been healthy the entire time was the Clippers 2020 choke job in the bubble. Fast forward to
2023, in a home playoff game that they desperately need to win, neither player is on the floor.
Even if Leonard can play again in this series, there is a good chance that this knee issue will not be a one game occurrence. The Clippers still don’t know when/if George will return, and they don’t have a first round draft pick until 2027.
They followed the wave in 2019, and had better hope that at some point either this season or next that George and Leonard can get out of the water and back on their surfboards. If not, that new Intuit Dome will be mighty quiet for the foreseeable future.