Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard has been cleared for five-on-five activities, team president Lawrence Frank told reporters Thursday.
Frank said Leonard "feels great" as the team prepares to open training camp next week. The five-time All-Star missed the entire 2021-22 season amid recovery from a partial ACL tear.
With Paul George also missing 51 games to injury, the Clippers finished 42-40 and lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans in the play-in tournament. It was just the second time in the last decade the franchise missed the postseason.
Leonard was initially injured during the 2021 Western Conference Semifinals against the Utah Jazz. While his status was initially shrouded in mystery, it was later revealed that Leonard suffered a partially torn ACL and would be out indefinitely. The 31-year-old then sat out all of last season to recover.
A Clippers team with a healthy Leonard and George is on the shortlist of possible NBA championship contenders. The Los Angeles natives came together in 2019 with the goal of bringing the Clippers their first NBA championship but have fallen short because of injuries.
This Clippers roster is once again laden with solid veteran depth at every position, and the team made the savvy move to buy low on John Wall in free agency in July. Wall's presence increases the star power in the locker room, but he has also been riddled with injuries in recent seasons.
There may be no higher-variance roster in all of basketball this season. A healthy Clippers team is a championship threat. A couple of injuries to key players, though, and they could be right back in the play-in.