Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said that the team’s franchise forward “feels great” and has an eight-week recovery timetable from when he underwent the procedure on June 6.
“Just a cleanup, went terrific,” Frank said after the Clippers’ draft on Thursday night. “Very quick procedure. He feels great. Eight-week recovery from time of surgery where you are back on the court playing like it was a game. We are very fortunate that it was just 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 the torn meniscus injury. The Suns beat the Clippers in five games.
It was another frustrating postseason that ended with crushing injuries for the Clippers, who did not have Paul George during the series because of a right knee sprain.
Frank reiterated that the team’s plan is to continue to build around Leonard and George as the main pillars of the franchise as the team heads into free agency.
“It’s still the plan,” Frank said. “What we are trying to do is how can we put together the best team around these guys and we look at the different things, what has worked, what hasn’t worked, the job that we have to do better, the job that we challenge our players to continue to do better.
“We are trying to maximize these two and figure out ways we can get better.”
The Clippers will also have some big decisions to make about the futures of Leonard and George. Both stars have $48 million player options for the 2024-25 season and they can be extended an additional four years for $220 million. Leonard can start to sign an extension on July 12 and George on Sept. 1.
But their availability has been a problem for the Clippers. Leonard played 52 regular season games last season and has not played more than 57 games in a regular season as a Clipper. George played 56 regular-season games last season but only 31 games 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 the potential extensions.
“It’s premature,” Frank said. “We do talk what the plan is, but we really can’t get into those specifics until the appropriate date and we will have the dialogues like we do. We are very, very honest and [have] open conversations and see if there is something that makes sense for both sides.”
The Clippers will enter free agency looking to add at the point guard position. They seemed poised to acquire Malcolm Brogdon but a proposed three-way deal between the Clippers, Celtics and Wizards fell apart as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Wednesday night.
Frank reiterated that the team hopes to bring Russell Westbrook back. The free agent point guard enters free agency looking to see what other offers he might draw on the market. The Clippers can only offer Westbrook the $3.8 million non-Bird exception.
But Westbrook made it clear how much he loved playing alongside George and Leonard and for the organization. He averaged 15.8 points, 7.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds following his signing with the team after being bought out of his deal by Utah during the All-Star break.
“Russ is a free agent and gets to choose,” Frank said. “As he’s shown, he did a phenomenal job during his time with the Clippers… we want Russ back but also respect the fact that he’s a free agent. But hopefully we can keep him a Clipper.”
Clippers expect Kawhi Leonard (knee) to be ‘100%’ ready by training camp