Clippers star Kawhi Leonard ‘feels good’ and is ready to play

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard 'feels good' and is ready to play

When the Clippers open training camp Tuesday in Las Vegas, Kawhi Leonard says he will be ready to practice.

Leonard is coming off of a 15-month recovery from surgery on his right knee to fix a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament and Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said last week that the team is approaching Leonard’s return to play with a mixture of excitement and caution, wanting to prioritize the All-Star wing’s availability for the postseason.

“The plan is tomorrow to start training camp,” Leonard said. “From there it’s seeing how my progression is, how I feel, what I’m not doing or moving correctly and just keep going from there, gradually building up, but right now I feel good and the plan is to start camp tomorrow and play.”

Part of feeling good, Leonard said, includes no longer being bothered when he jumps off his once-injured leg.

The Clippers’ first of four preseason games is Thursday in Seattle. Leonard didn’t say how much he would participate in preseason games, if at all.

Pictures of Leonard’s bulked-up physique spread across social media during the offseason, and Leonard said he feels stronger after more than a year of weight training while working himself into playing shape.

“I’m more excited of him being healthy, that’s first and foremost, I’ve seen his whole work throughout the second he got injured to the work he put in this offseason,” fellow All-Star forward Paul George said of Leonard. “I got to watch from the outside to see how much work he put into this year, real excited for him to do what he loves to do.

“Obviously after that it’s excitement of getting to play with the best two-way player in the game.”

Leonard said that if the Clippers had reached the NBA Finals last season, “they would have seen me playing,” but the Clippers lost in the play-in tournament. That team, Leonard said, excited him with its comebacks and the resilience but he noted he wants the team to play smarter, noting several mistakes he saw out of timeouts last season.

“Without the play-in tournament we would have made the playoffs,” Leonard said. “I think that shows who they are as individuals and I think I can come in and help out with that, help us win more games.”

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