The Los Angeles Clippers may be getting their stars back soon, as head coach Ty Lue said at practice Friday afternoon that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will be listed as questionable for Saturday's game against the Sacramento Kings.
Both Leonard and George rejoined the Clippers at practice on Friday, after the two had been dealing with injuries that have kept them in and out of the lineup this season. George has been out the last six games due to a right hamstring strain, while Leonard has been out for the past five games with a sprained right ankle. However, Leonard has been sidelined for 18 of L.A.'s 23 games this season as he's been trying to return from a torn ACL that he suffered during the 2021 playoffs. He returned for a three-game stint in mid-November but went back on the injured list after tweaking his ankle.
"They're gonna do something today and just kind of see how they feel," Lue said Friday. "But both are progressing really well."
Obviously, the Clippers want both stars back in the lineup, but getting Leonard back healthy would be a huge boost for this team. Lue mentioned Leonard will be on a minutes restriction until he gets his legs under him, a cautious approach from a team that wants to ensure their star forward doesn't have any more costly setbacks this season.
"It'll take a little time [to get a rhythm]," Lue said. "Kawhi coming back still having a minute restriction. And our back-to-back situations [of holding out Leonard in one of the games]. So it's going to take a little time just figuring out the rotations, who plays well with who, trying to figure out how to split Kawhi's minutes and what's best for the team and what's best for him as well."
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The Clippers have started the season well considering both of their stars have missed time with injuries, and currently sit fifth in the Western Conference with a 13-10 record. Once Leonard and George are back, as well as Norman Powell and Luke Kennard who are both also sidelined with injuries, this roster can start to build some on-court chemistry together. That hasn't always been easy for this team given the number of injuries to both George and Leonard.
Health has always been the obstacle holding this Clippers team back from winning a title since George and Leonard teamed up together in L.A. back in 2019. And while this season has already gotten off to a rough start as far as injuries go, the Clippers are hoping that with a healthy Leonard and George, as well as a deep roster filled with quality role players, they can turn those championship aspirations into a reality.