With the Clippers losing consecutive play-in games, subsequently missing the playoffs, Kawhi Leonard officially missed the entire 2021-22 NBA season. The door on a potential return remained open until the very end; however, with the Clippers failing to make a deep playoff run, Leonard was never able to attempt a return. While it is beyond unfortunate to miss out on an entire year of Kawhi's prime, the team is optimistic about his return next season.
When asked about Kawhi during a media availability session on Wednesday, Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said, "We’re encouraged by the progress that he’s making. The fact that he’s been able to stay so ultra-locked into his rehab just speaks so much of the discipline you see when he’s on the court. You see that carried over into his rehab. That’s a challenge. That’s not easy."
When asked about a timetable, Frank said, "I'm not going to get into timetables in the middle of April... I just trust the process of seeing him work every day and how hard he works. Regardless, if he’s like this right off the bat or it takes a little bit of time, I have great faith that he’ll be back and better than ever."
While Kawhi never got on the floor for game action during the 2021-22 season, Frank says his impact was still undeniable. "He’s got a great, great brain and great, great mind for the game,” Frank said. “So you just control what you can control. He can’t be out there physically. But look at what our guys see when they come in. He’s here early and then he’s still here late. Then they see what he does and his process all the time. That matters. The best players in my experience always unite and inspire by what they do, not by what they said. It’s your actions.”
While it is certainly unfortunate that the Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard all season, the team is looking forward to a 2022-23 season full of health and success for both he and Paul George