Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard Diagnosed With Torn Meniscus: What’s Likely Recovery Timeline?

Written by Shams Charania, Lou Murray, and Greg Schultz

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his right knee, league sources report. the athlete Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Leonard missed the final three games of Los Angeles’ first-round loss to Phoenix.
  • In the first two games, he averaged 34.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 40 minutes per game.
  • Leonard injured the same knee in the 2021 playoffs and later had it surgically repaired, costing him the 2021-22 season.

the athleteInstant Analysis:

What does this mean for clippers?

Leonard waited two years to return to the NBA after he underwent surgery to repair a partial tear in his right anterior cruciate ligament that he suffered in the 2021 postseason causing him to miss the entire 2021-22 season. Seeing Leonard deal with another serious knee injury is disheartening, to say the least.

Of course, others said more than less. The fact that anyone would expect Leonard, who also dealt with quadriceps tendinopathy, to play through this type of injury is ridiculous. Paul George, who is dealing with his right knee injury, said those who thought Leonard was sitting out were “attacking his character” while echoing the team’s explanation that Leonard was injured in Game 1 of the Series and played through the injury in Game 2.

The Clippers have a history of not saying much about the severity of Leonard’s injuries until after the postseason. A sprained knee injury two years ago revealed to be a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) which required surgery. Now, Leonard’s “twisted right knee” is the type of injury that normally requires a procedure that takes months to heal from.

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The best case scenario is that Leonard will be ready to resume basketball activities in 1-2 months, allowing him to spend most of the summer preparing for the next season. But there will again be questions about his readiness to play going into the 2023-24 season as his knee responds to any appropriate treatment. – Murray

What is the meniscus and what happens when it tears?

The meniscus is a small, crescent-shaped piece of cartilage that lies between the femur and the tibia (shin bone). There are two meniscuses in each knee. The meniscus helps stabilize the knee joint and absorbs shock during movement. It’s a very crucial role. In a way, it’s kind of a bump on the car.

Meniscus tears often arise from sudden twisting or pivoting movements. Players may notice a “popping sensation” when it rips. It should be noted that the meniscus becomes weaker over time as we age / put more pressure on them.

Symptoms generally include the usual pain, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty extending/flexing the knee. – Schulz

What does recovery look like?

As with any injury, recovery depends first on its severity. In the case of basketball players, if the tear is minor and is treated without surgery, the player may return within four to six weeks. However, if surgery is necessary, recovery may take three to six months.

There are concerns about future performance after a meniscus tear, particularly in the second case described above, where the tear is more severe and requires surgery. In these scenarios, players tend to experience things like persistent pain, stiffness, or instability in the knee. These symptoms can directly affect things like agility, speed, etc. – Schulz

Is the outlook worse because of Leonard’s other injuries to the same knee?

Yes, danger or anxiety mounts up. Kawhi partially ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee (end of 2021, cost him 2022). Now, the meniscus in the same knee has been torn; Which increases the possibility of complications or ongoing problems in that knee. The NBA offseason generally falls into the 20-week range, which is a solid recovery period. Some possible outcomes:

  1. Full recovery: the ideal scenario. Kouhi is regaining his previous level of performance and has no major persistent problems with his knee. It will require diligent rehabilitation, consistent medical treatment, and (honestly) a bit of luck.
  2. Leonard gets off to a slow start or miss early games: Leonard may enter the 2023-24 season with some lingering issues, such as the aforementioned stiffness, decreased agility or minor pain in the right knee. It should gradually improve as the season progresses, provided he maintains a rehabilitation schedule to work on strengthening and conditioning the knee.
  3. Load management: Kawhi will likely miss the games in 2023-24, referring to “load management.” She gets tossed about a lot nowadays, but Leonard will need it.
  4. Declining Performance: If he continues to suffer from injury, but decides to play, there will be a noticeable shift in his game. Less agility, less explosive power and probably won’t trust the knee 100%. This would affect him on both ends of the earth. – Schulz

the background

After winning Game 1 behind Leonard’s 38 points, the Clippers Suns battled competitively in Game 2 with 31 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Without Leonard in the last three games, Los Angeles had no answers for Phoenix stars Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, who averaged 37.2 and 28.4 points per game in the series.

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Leonard, 31, played 50 games in 2022-23 as he slowly made his comeback from a right knee injury he suffered in July 2021 during the Western Conference Semifinals.

Clippers co-star George missed the first round with a knee injury. He sprained his right knee in March.

George also missed 43 games in 2021-22 due to an elbow injury. Without the two stars for most of the season, the Clippers went 42-40.

Leonard hasn’t played in more than 60 games in a season since 2016-17. He will enter the third year of his four-year contract in 2023-24, and holds a $48 million player option for 2024-25.

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(Photo: Mark J. Rebellas/USA Today)

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