Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard diagnosed with torn meniscus: What’s his potential recovery timeline?

By Shams Sarania, La Murray and Greg Scholes

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his right knee, league sources said. Athletic On Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Leonard missed the final three games of Phoenix’s first-round loss to Los Angeles.
  • In the first two games, he averaged 34.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 40 minutes per game.
  • Leonard injured the same knee in the 2021 playoffs and later had surgery to repair it, costing him the 2021-22 season.

AthleticInstant Analysis:

What this means for the Clippers

Leonard waited two years to return to the NBA postseason after undergoing surgery to repair a torn right ACL before the 2021 postseason. It’s sad to see Leonard deal with another serious knee injury, to say the least.

Of course, others have said more than less. It would be ridiculous for anyone to expect Leonard, who also dealt with quadriceps tendinopathy, to play through that kind of injury. Paul George, dealing with his right knee injury, said those who thought Leonard sat out were “attacking his character,” while echoing the team’s explanation that Leonard was hurt in the first game of the series and played through the injury in Game 2. .

The Clippers have a history of not saying much about the severity of Leonard’s injuries until after a postseason. A sprained knee two years ago turned out to be a torn ACL that required surgery. Now, Leonard’s “sprained right knee” is the kind of injury that usually takes months to heal.

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The best case scenario is that Leonard will be ready to resume basketball activities in one to two months, allowing him to spend most of the summer preparing for next season. But questions will arise again about his fitness to play in the 2023-24 season, as his knee will respond to whatever treatment is appropriate. — Murray

What is Menstruation and What Happens When It Tears?

The meniscus is a small, crescent-shaped cartilage that sits between the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone). Each knee has two menisci. Meniscus helps stabilize the knee joint and absorbs impact during movement. This is a very important role. In a way, it’s like a shock in a car.

A meniscal tear often arises from sudden twisting or rotating movements. Players may notice a “popping sensation” if it tears. As we get older/put more stress on them, it’s worth noting that menstruation weakens over time.

Symptoms usually include constant pain, swelling, stiffness and difficulty extending/bending the knee. — Scholes

What does recovery look like?

As with any injury, recovery first depends on the severity. As for basketball players, if the tear is minor and treated non-surgically, a player can return in four to six weeks. However, if surgery is required, recovery may take three to six months.

There are concerns about future performance after a torn meniscus, especially in the second case outlined above, where the tear is more severe and requires surgery. In these situations, players tend to experience persistent pain, stiffness, or instability in the knee. Those symptoms can directly affect agility, speed, etc. — Scholes

Is the vision impaired by Leonard’s other injuries to the same knee?

Yes, risk or concern is increased. Kawhi had a partially torn ACL in his right knee (at the end of 2021, costing him 2022). Now, a meniscal tear in the same knee; This increases the likelihood of complications or ongoing complications with that knee. The NBA offseason typically spans 20 weeks, a solid recovery window. Some possible outcomes:

  1. Full Recovery: Best View. Kawhi is regaining his previous performance and has not experienced significant recurring problems with his knee. It will require diligent rehabilitation, consistent medical treatment and (honestly) a bit of luck.
  2. Leonard gets off to a slow start or misses early games: Leonard could enter the 2023-24 season with some lingering issues, such as the aforementioned stiffness, decreased mobility or minor pain in his right knee. They should gradually improve as the season progresses, and he maintains a rehab schedule to strengthen and condition the knee.
  3. Load management: Saffron will miss games in 2023-24 citing “load management”. It gets thrown around a lot these days, but Leonard will need it.
  4. Decline in performance: If he continues to struggle with injury but decides to play, there will be a significant change in his game. Low agility, low explosiveness and he won’t trust his knee 100 percent. It affects him on both ends of the floor. — Scholes


After winning Game 1 behind Leonard’s 38 points, the Clippers battled the Suns in Game 2 with his 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Without Leonard for the final three games, LA had no answer for Phoenix stars Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, who averaged 37.2 and 28.4 points in the series.

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Leonard, 31, played 50 games in 2022-23 as he slowly returns from a right knee injury he suffered during the Western Conference semifinals in July 2021.

Clippers co-star George missed all of the first round with a knee injury. He sprained his right knee in March.

George missed 43 games in 2021-22 with an elbow injury. Without their two stars for most of the season, the Clippers went 42-40.

Leonard hasn’t played more than 60 games in a season since 2016-17. He will enter the third year of his four-year contract in 2023-24 and has a $48 million player option in 2024-25.

Required reading

(Photo: Mark J. Repilas / USA Today)

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