PLAYA VISTA, Calif. — Kawhi Leonard underwent a cleanup procedure on a torn meniscus in his right knee and is expected to be “100%” ready for LA Clippers training camp in October.
Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said the team’s franchise forward is “feeling good” and has an eight-week recovery timetable from when he underwent the procedure on June 6.
“Just a cleanup, went terrific,” said Frank after the Clippers’ draft last Thursday night. “Very quick procedure. He’s feeling great. Eight weeks of recovery from surgery where you’re back on the court playing like a game. We’re very fortunate that it’s a quick little cleanup. “
Leonard averaged 34.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists in Games 1 and 2 of the first round against the Phoenix Suns before missing the rest of the series with a torn meniscus injury. The Suns beat the Clippers in five games.
Another disappointing postseason ended with injuries for the Clippers, who were without Paul George during the series due to a sprained right knee.
Frank reiterated that the team’s plan is to continue building around Leonard and George as the main pillars of the franchise as the team heads into free agency.
“This is still the plan,” said Frank. “What we’re trying to do is how do we put together the best team around these guys? And we’re looking at different things, what’s working, what’s not working, the work we need to do that is better, the work we challenge our players to continue to do better.
“We’re trying to maximize both of these and figure out ways to get better.”
The Clippers also have big decisions to make regarding the futures of Leonard and George. Both stars have $48 million in player options for the 2024-25 season and they can be extended an additional four years for $220 million. Leonard can sign an extension starting July 12 and George on September 1.
But their availability has become a problem for the Clippers. Leonard played 52 regular-season games last season and has never played more than 57 regular-season games as a Clipper. George played in 56 regular-season games last season but only 31 in 2021-22, when Leonard was out with a torn ACL.
Frank was asked about signing Leonard and George to extensions and the length of those potential extensions.
“It’s premature,” Frank said. “We are talking about what the plan is, but we won’t really get to the details until the appropriate date and we have dialogues as we do. We are very honest and [have] open conversations and see if something makes sense for both sides.”
The Clippers enter free agency looking to add to the point guard position. They seemed poised to land Malcolm Brogdon, but a proposed three-way deal between the Clippers, Celtics and Wizards fell through as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday night.
Frank reiterated that the team hopes to bring back Russell Westbrook. The free agent point guard enters free agency to see what other offers he can get on the market. The Clippers can only give Westbrook a $3.8 million non-Bird exception.
But Westbrook made it clear that he really enjoyed playing with George and Leonard and the organization. He averaged 15.8 points, 7.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds after signing with the team after being bought out of his deal with Utah during the All-Star break.
“Russ is a free agent and can choose,” Frank said. “As he’s shown, he’s done an amazing job in his time with the Clippers. … We want Russ to come back but also respect the fact that he’s a free agent. But hopefully we can keep him as a Clipper.”