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Clippers to Be 'Cautious' with Kawhi Leonard's Foot Injury, Says Ty Lue

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 15, 2021

Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard, left, drives against San Antonio Spurs' DeMar DeRozan during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, in San Antonio. Los Angeles won 134-101. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Darren Abate/Associated Press

Los Angeles Clippers head coach Ty Lue said Wednesday that the team is being careful with superstar forward Kawhi Leonard when it comes to his foot injury. 

According to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk, Lue said the Clippers are "leaning toward the cautious side" with Leonard, who missed his third consecutive game Wednesday. Lue considers Leonard day-to-day.

Leonard, 29, has averaged 26.0 points on 51.5 percent shooting, 6.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.7 steals for the 39-18 Clippers, who are third in the Western Conference.

Just as they did last season, the Clips have taken a cautious approach with Kawhi and his health in 2020-21, as he has sat out 12 games.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP is in his second season with the Clippers after joining L.A. in free agency following the 2018-19 campaign, when he led the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title during his only season with the team. Prior to that season, Leonard played for the San Antonio Spurs from 2011 to 2018 and won the 2014 NBA Finals.

The six-time All-NBA Defensive team member, five-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA team member is one of the best two-way players in the game, and losing him for any amount of time is a blow for a Clippers team looking to bounce back after a tough second-round exit in last year's playoffs to the Denver Nuggets.

The Clippers have experience playing without Leonard, going 8-4 when he's not in the lineup. He's missed time this year because of a mouth laceration, the NBA's health and safety protocols, a lower-leg contusion, back spasms and foot soreness.

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Lue has choices at his disposal to keep the team afloat for as long as Kawhi is out of the lineup.

One of them is Terance Mann, who is averaging 25 minutes per game over the past three contests with Leonard out. Mann has put up 8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game during that stretch.

Also, look for the likes of Paul George, Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum to raise their level of play while Leonard is out.