The Los Angeles Clippers are holding onto their spot in the play-in tournament as the regular season reaches its home stretch.
But if the Clippers earn a playoff spot, head coach Ty Lue said Monday that he wouldn't rule out the possibility of injured stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George making their long-awaited returns.
When asked if he's keeping the door open for them to play in the postseason even if they don't play during the rest of the regular season, Lue responded, "Hell yeah I keep it open," according to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk.
Lue further explained that his preference is for any of his injured players to participate in at least one regular-season game before taking the floor in the playoffs. But he stated that as long as they're cleared medically, he'd have no issue with them playing.
"To hit the playoffs going at 100, from zero to 100, that is pretty tough," Lue said. "But if the medical guys say they are cleared and they are able to do that, that is totally up to them."
George, who hasn't played since December because of a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, has progressed to four-on-four practice with minimal contact against Clippers assistant coaches. At the time of his injury, George was having a strong season with 24.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game.
"To get him on the court for the first time was really good to see, got to continue to keep working and see how he is feeling going forward," Lue said, adding that George had "no problems, no pain."
Leonard has missed the entire season while working his way back from a torn right ACL suffered last June in a second-round playoff game against the Utah Jazz.
The Clippers have also been without swingman Norman Powell, who suffered a fracture in a bone in his left foot three games after being acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers at the trade deadline. He had the boot removed from his foot, but Lue said he hasn't been cleared for contact.
Los Angeles (36-37) will take on the seventh-place Denver Nuggets (42--30) on Tuesday in a potential play-in game preview.