LA Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard says his need to return this season factored into choice to signal max deal

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. — Kawhi Leonard stated a part of the rationale why he signed a four-year max contract to stay with the LA Clippers as a substitute of choosing a shorter deal that might result in a extra profitable contract is that he hopes to return and play this season.

Leonard wouldn’t give a timetable for his restoration from surgical procedure on July 13 to restore {a partially} torn proper ACL that stored him out of the Clippers’ closing eight playoff video games. He’s anticipated to overlook important time. However the workforce’s star revealed {that a} potential return this season factored into his choice to signal his four-year, $176.three million contract in August.

“As a result of I wished to play,” Leonard defined of his choice on the workforce’s media day on Monday. “I imply, the very best state of affairs for me was to do it one-and-one after which decide out and signal a long-term five-year deal. However there’s a whole lot of issues that that brings up for you guys and your job, and it creates storylines that I will depart the workforce [after one year].

“I wished to safe some cash, and I wished to have the ability to come again if I used to be capable of this yr. If I might have took the one-and-one, I in all probability would haven’t performed [this season] simply to be cautious and opted out and took a five-year.”

The Clippers have steered away from setting any timetable for when Leonard can return to play. Lawrence Frank, president of basketball operations, stated final week that “we do not even breach that” when requested if he anticipates Leonard with the ability to play this season.

“It is simply, nobody is aware of if you’re coping with a restoration from an ACL [injury], the timeframe,” Frank stated.

Leonard stated on Monday that “it’s extremely difficult” taking the rehab day-by-day, particularly as a result of he is injured “and not likely feeling like I used to be injured.” Leonard suffered the damage throughout Recreation four of the second spherical of the playoffs towards Utah after he was fouled on a drive. Leonard initially thought he was OK however the workforce stored him out of the ultimate minutes of that sport. He even traveled with the workforce to Utah earlier than returning to Los Angeles previous to Recreation 5 as soon as he discovered he was out. The workforce initially referred to as the damage a sprained proper knee.

“I hope he comes again October 21st [for the opener],” Clippers head coach Ty Lue stated when requested if he permits himself to suppose Leonard is likely to be again for the playoffs. “However the actuality is he isn’t going to be prepared then. We do not need to power him or put any stress on him. We need to be certain that he is rehabbing, doing all the pieces he can to get again as quickly as potential, and if that is subsequent season, that is subsequent season.”

“We do not need to power him to come back again too early. We need to be certain that he is 100% when he does come again.”

Leonard’s damage factored into his free-agency choice this offseason. He may have signed a four-year, $187 million extension had he opted into the $36 million he was set to earn within the 2021-22 season. However he declined that possibility totally free company.

As a free agent, Leonard may have signed a two-year, $82 million take care of a participant possibility in 2022-23 and change into a free agent once more in 2022, which might have made him eligible to signal a five-year, $235 million max contract with the Clippers, in keeping with ESPN’s Bobby Marks. However Leonard hopes to return this season, so he went with the five-year deal.

Staying with the Clippers was by no means doubtful for Leonard. Now the query is when he can return to play once more.

“Simply day-to-day,” Leonard stated. “Simply working with the employees day-to-day, after which when that accessible date comes, we’ll be prepared for it, and it will be out within the public.”

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