LA Clippers President's Statement on Kawhi Leonard's Health

Kawhi Leonard has missed the last four playoffs due to injury.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest elephant in the room for the LA Clippers isn't Paul George or James Harden's upcoming free agencies, it's actually Kawhi Leonard's heath. Whether or not George or Harden re-sign with the team doesn't matter if Kawhi Leonard isn't available in the playoffs.

It's a major issue that the Clippers themselves are aware of.

For the last four straight seasons, Kawhi Leonard has not been available for a full playoff run. He's had a torn ACL, torn meniscus, and now knee inflammation. The only thing that'll change next season, too, is that he'll be older at the age of 33. It's a concern that Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank knows that the team has to work around.

"So organizationally, we have to look at how we can manage this the best to increase our odds and probability and look, there are no guarantees," Frank said in his exit interview. "Like I can’t promise you something that we can’t deliver and just like in Milwaukee, Giannis and Dame [Lillard] were hurt. in Miami, Jimmy [Butler] was hurt, in New Orleans Zion was hurt. Like it’s part of the game and we’re not going to make any excuses for it, we’re not going to play the victim like it is what it is."

The promise of being able to deliver a championship is getting smaller and smaller every year for the LA Clippers. Paul George is going to be 34 years old next season and can't seem to draw two defenders anymore, James Harden will be 35 years old, and Kawhi Leonard will be 33 years old with only one full healthy playoff series in five years. Despite that, Lawrence Frank believes none of their players are going to fall of a cliff performance-wise next season.

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

"I get the skepticism and I’m not here to over promise something we can’t deliver or sell hype up," Frank said. "I’m more dealing of what our reality is and I think sometimes when things repeatedly happen, it’s like are you not seeing it? What I’m saying is no, I see it, but I also see the other side of it too and just because guys dealt with injuries or they’re in their mid 30’s, like sometimes there’s fans I talk to, like oh, like things just fall off a cliff, like there’s not a lot of evidence of that."

The biggest takeaway from the 2024 NBA Playoffs has been that young stars have taken over the league. It's hard to see an older team succeed, or anyone over the age of 31. Regardless of what's happening, Lawrence Frank believes that Kawhi Leoanrd, James Harden, and Paul George can still perform with the right complimentary pieces.

"Look, we watch all the games, I see the young stars that are rising and we’re not in denial about it, but I still think this group, we’re gonna ask them to be better too," Frank said. "You don’t stop being better and to be able to do our jobs and continue to surround them with the best complimentary players that give us the best chance to win.”

The LA Clippers have multiple major problems heading into the 2024-25 NBA season. However, all of them begin and end with Kawhi Leonard's health. If he's healthy for the playoffs, 90% of the problems are gone.

Farbod Esnaashari


12-year NBA veteran that's covered the league on Sports Illustrated, Forbes, Bleacher Report, and ESPN.