Los Angeles Clippers SF Kawhi Leonard has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The Clippers were eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs in five games after a 136-130 loss on Tuesday night. It’s another early exit for L.A. and a disappointing end to the season for Leonard, who was averaging 35 points per game prior to being shut down.
It’s an interesting offseason for the Clippers and Leonard. This is yet another season ended with an injury and it’s likely he’ll need another surgery on his right knee. It could mean the Clippers hold Leonard out at the start of next season. He’s entering what could be the final year of his deal with Los Angeles after he signed an identical contract to Paul George. Both players will make $45 million next season and have player options for 2024-25 at $48 million, which you’d think each picks up.
The Clippers could look to move both Leonard and PG-13 and start a rebuild of sorts. Los Angeles would only be in contention if PG and Leonard were both 100% healthy, which may never happen again frankly. The Clippers are stuck with most of the same core until at least after next season. So L.A. could just run it back with this same group and see if it comes together. Otherwise, it makes sense to see if PG-13 and Leonard walk/request a trade before or during next season and going from there. SG Norman Powell is under contract through 2025-26.
Is retirement an option for Kawhi? He’s 31 years old and the injuries just keep on coming. He’s won two championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards in his career. That’s more than you could say for most NBA players in their careers. He’d be leaving a lot of money on the table, so chances are Leonard will at least try and play out the remainder of his deal before making a decision when he’s in his mid-30s. Then of course Stephen A. Smith had this take: