Kawhi Leonard says Clippers 'not really' worried about him playing in Olympics after another injury-shortened season


After his healthiest regular season in years, Kawhi Leonard’s postseason ended like so many have before — in street clothes with an injury.

Now, two months after missing the final three Clippers playoff games with nagging knee inflammation, Leonard is prepping with Team USA for the Summer Olympics in Paris. So what do the Clippers think about their oft-injured star inviting more injury risk to play for another team? Are they concerned?

“Not really,” Leonard said Sunday, per ESPN. “They were positive about the situation. So, yeah, they wasn’t too worried about it.”

Leonard addressed the subject while speaking with reporters at Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas. He said that his knee has improved since the NBA postseason, leading to his decision to accept USA Basketball’s invitation to play on a star-studded Olympics roster featuring fellow former NBA Finals MVPs LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.

“I took the time, and I was able to turn around over the last two weeks,” Leonard said. “So, I’m out here now, and, yeah, I’m having a good time.”

This summer is Kawhi Leonard's first and, perhaps, last chance to compete for an Olympic gold medal.  (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)This summer is Kawhi Leonard's first and, perhaps, last chance to compete for an Olympic gold medal.  (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

This summer is Kawhi Leonard’s first and, perhaps, last chance to compete for an Olympic gold medal. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

A six-time All-NBA selection and two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP, Leonard has few gaps in his Hall of Fame resume. An Olympic gold medal is one of them. This summer will mark the first time Leonard’s played in the Olympics. At 33 years old with a long injury history, there’s a decent chance that it’s also his last Olympics, surely a motivating factor in his decision to play this summer.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are going through a period of significant transition after the exit of Paul George in free agency to the Philadelphia 76ers. They don’t project to contend for a championship in the aftermath of George’s exit, but they will lean more on Leonard as the team’s No. 1 option moving forward.

It’s a dicey proposition for a player who’s watched the conclusion of each of the Clippers’ last three playoff runs from the sideline with injuries. That doesn’t included a 2021-22 season that saw the Clippers missed the playoffs when Leonard missed the season with an ACL tear.

But for now, Leonard’s healthy and says that “everything’s been going good” as he’s fully participated in Team USA’s first two practices. He’s not worried about the injury risk. And, according to Leonard, the Clippers aren’t that worried either.



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