nach undergo surgery in July to repair a partial tear to his right anterior cruciate ligament, Clippers star Kawhi leonard he does not have a fixed schedule for his return to the field. Address Leonard’s health in a conversation with Mark Medina of USA Today, team owner Steve Ballmer said it is “possible” that the star forward will return to the court before the end of the 2021-22 season, but he is unwilling to offer guarantees.
“Nobody knows at this stage”, Ballmer said. “Nobody knows. It is possible. It sure is possible. But it will depend on what the doctors say and what Kawhi says.”
When a player sustains an ACL tear during the fall or winter, their season is usually over, but a player’s recovery time is less clear when the injury occurs at the end of the previous season or near the end. For now, it seems safe to assume that Leonard will at least be sidelined for most of the 2021-22 season. However, Ballmer still believes the Clippers are a “very good team,” and told Medina that he hopes to be in pursuit of a championship again if Kawhi can return in the spring.
“We come this year in search of a title”, Ballmer said. “Obviously, not having one of our two best players, that hurts. We’ll see when we get Kawhi back. But think about a three-year period, we have all these guys under contract for this year and next. I think it gives us a lot of opportunities to compete. “
Ballmer, who made the media rounds before breaking ground at the Clippers’ new Inglewood Stadium, conveyed a feeling similar to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
“Every year I want to win” Ballmer said. “Some people will talk about ‘We are taking a step back’ or ‘We have a year injured.’ No. Our fans can count on the fact that we are going to try to win as many ball games as we can each year. Now, we suffer a small setback. We have to make Kawhi healthy. And when I return, we will return with all our strength. “
In conversations with Medina, Shelburne and other reporters, Ballmer emphasized that moving from the Staples Center to the Intuit Dome in 2024 represents the Clippers ‘desire to create their own “identity” outside of the Lakers’ shadow.
The Clippers have long had a reputation as the Lakers’ overlooked little brother, but Ballmer told Medina he believes his team has become a “great free agent destination” in its own right. The next steps for the Clippers, Ballmer says, are to win a championship and get their own building.
“There are 30 teams in the league. There are 29 others. And we have one that is based in Los Angeles. “ Ballmer told Shelburne. And we have our fans. We use our expression, ‘LA Our Way’. And we are building our own presence, identity. And if the other guys (the Lakers) feel a little threatened – the other guys’ fans, I mean; Players are actually treated a little differently, but if they feel a little threatened, that’s fine. It means we are doing well. “