Kawhi Leonard is still off duty.
Los Angeles Clippers star will not be with the team when they travel to Houston and San Antonio this week for a two-game trip, coach Ty Lue confirmed on Monday.
Leonard, who was missed all last season with an ACL injury, missed the last four Clippers games due to “injury management” after reporting stiffness in his knee last week.
This latest setback will bring him absence to at least six games, meaning he will not return before Sunday’s match against the Utah Jazz at Crypto.com Arena.
Fortunately, Lue said that before their game with the Rockets Monday night in Los Angeles, Leonard’s knee is improving.
‘ He is frustrated, said Lue, through Mark Medina of the NBA. “He wants to be on the floor. He wants to travel. But it’s obviously not the right thing to do right now.
The San Diego State product appeared in just two games this season and missed the last three. Lue said the absence would extend to at least six games in total.
The Clippers have been watching Leonard carefully as early as this season. The two-time NBA Finals MVP came out of the bench in the first two games he played.
Leonard missed the entire 2021-22 season while suffering from a partially broken ACL in his right knee in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Utah Jazz in June 2021.
Few players in the NBA have been more carefully managed than Leonard in recent seasons. He missed at least 15 games in each of the last three seasons he played from 2018-21.
When Leonard was on trial, he was one of the league’s best players. The All-NBA forward averaged 26.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in 109 games with the Clippers.
Clippers often struggled to keep players healthy last season. Paul George missed 51 games due to injuries. Marcus Morris Sr. and Eric Bledsoe played only 54 games.
Despite these injuries, Lou still led Los Angeles to a 42-40 record and a place in the play-in tournament.
Healthy Leonard raises the ceiling for the clipper considerably. Their aspirations for the 2022–23 season depend on the presence of a 31-year-old.
Morris is likely to see more time of the game while Leonard is available for a comeback.