The Clippers’ coach, Tyronn Lue, said on Friday that Kawhi Leonard and John Wall will play in the Clippers’ preseason game against the Blazers on Monday night. This will be their first game in over a year.
Lue told the team before their first preseason game, which was against the Israeli team Maccabi Ra’anana at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena. Leonard and Wall were listed as inactive for the game, but they are expected to play next week. Paul George, Nicolas Batum, Norman Powell, and Reggie Jackson are also expected to play after sitting out Friday night.
Friday’s news means that the Clippers are almost back to full strength. They have missed Leonard’s presence a lot. The two-time NBA champion missed the whole 2021–22 season because he had surgery to fix a partially torn ACL he got in the playoffs of 2021.
Leonard took a big step toward getting better last week, just before training camp started this week. Lawrence Frank, the president of the Clippers, told reporters that the five-time All-Star felt great and had been given the green light to play in five-on-five scrimmages.
Last season, L.A. had trouble winning without Leonard. They ended the year with a 42–40 record and did not make the playoffs. The team also played 31 games without George, who was hurting his elbow and couldn’t play.
Unless something bad happens, Leonard should be able to step right back into his role as Batman to George’s Robin as the two try to get the Clippers to the promised land.
Wall, who played for the Wizards for nine years and was an All-Star five times, will play his first game with the Clippers in April 2021. It will be his first time on the court since he left the Wizards. During the 1921–1922 season, the Rockets guard averaged 20.9 points, 6.9 assists, and 3.2 rebounds in 40 games. Wall joined L.A. in July after getting out of his contract with Houston. The 32-year-old didn’t play at all last season because he and the team agreed that he wouldn’t.
Wall has everything he needs to work well with Leonard and George, but it is still unclear how the former No. 1 pick will do after years of health problems.
Wall played in 41 games in 2017–18, but he had to miss the rest of the season because of an injury to his left heel. A wall fell on his house in February 2019 and tore his left Achilles tendon. He was out of action for a long time and missed the whole 2019–20 season.
Wall played for Washington until December 2020, when he was traded to Houston for Russell Westbrook and a draught pick in 2023.
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