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Report: Clippers fear Kawhi Leonard suffered torn ACL [UPDATE]

Clippers All-Star is dealing with a knee injury and now it could be season-ending and even more serious than before.

Assistant Coach Chauncey Billups of the LA Clippers talks with Kawhi Leonard #2 during Round 2, Game 4 of 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 14, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.  Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Update: This day just keeps getting crazier and crazier. The Clippers now fear that Leonard suffered a torn ACL, per Shams Charania.

Leonard was initially believed to have suffered a knee sprain and was ruled out indefinitely. This would be much, much worse than that. If Leonard does have a torn ACL, it would mean he could be in danger of missing a big chunk of the 2021-22 season.

This is also big for free agency. Leonard has a player option for next season and could have opted out of his contract with the Clippers once the calendar flips in August. This injury would almost certainly mean Kawhi will opt into the player option and could even sit out all of next season to rest before returning to action (purely speculation).

In the short term, Leonard does not appear like he’ll return for the rest of this postseason and is definitely out for Game 5 on Wednesday. This could alter the future of a lot of members of the Clippers, including head coach Tyronn Lue and star forward Paul George.

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Los Angeles Clippers SF Kawhi Leonard will miss Game 5 of their second-round series vs. the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night due to a knee injury, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelbourne reported early this morning. Kawhi appeared to injure his knee in the Game 4 win to even the series 2-2. Now, Leonard’s status is up in the air for the remainder of the series.

Update: Leonard has been diagnosed with a knee sprain and is out indefinitely, the Clippers announced later in the morning.

Update: This report that Kawhi is out has moved the spread of Game 5 to Jazz -7.5 on DraftKings Sportsbook. Utah is also -305 on the moneyline. The Clippers aren’t completely lost without Leonard and could surprise us but this feels like a line that could move to double-digits with Utah at home.

Well, this report is surprising to say the least. The Clippers had said on Tuesday that Leonard was fine after not being listed on the injury report ahead of this crucial Game 5. Now, Leonard appears to be out for at least Wednesday and could be in danger of missing the rest of the series. This could mean Leonard went for an MRI or additional testing yesterday that revealed something else, something potentially more serious. That’s the only reason you would think Kawhi would miss such a big game.

With Leonard out, it’s hard to envision the Clippers advancing past the Jazz. It’s a shame because the Clips just won two in a row to make it a series. Leonard is averaging 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists with a 26.11 PER over 11 games in the playoffs so far. He had been playing around 40 minutes per game, which could be a reason why this injury flared up. With Kawhi out, it’s Paul George’s team. We’ll see if the criticized superstar can shake off the playoff demons and show us what he’s made of.

We can expect the Jazz to be heavily favored in this series and favored to come out of the West after the Kawhi news and Chris Paul health and safety protocols report. Utah has one game at home and unless Leonard can return for Game 6, the Jazz should be able to take care of the Clippers. Mike Conley is also a factor; he could return in Game 5 from a hamstring injury.