- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Kawhi Leonard, the all-star forward for the Los Angeles Clippers, underwent a successful surgery to repair a partially torn ACL in his right knee, the team announced Tuesday night. There’s no timetable for Leonard’s return.

Leonard may have suffered the injury late in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, when he tweaked his knee. He finished that game, but he didn’t appear in Game 5 or 6 of the semifinals. Nor did Leonard appear in the Western Conference finals against the Phoenix Suns — a series the Clippers lost — due to what Los Angeles team officials described as a sprained right knee.

Leonard averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game this season. He’s coming to a critical point in his career, with a player option in his contract for next season. Leonard holds a player option for next season, part of his three-year deal he signed with the Clippers in 2019. Per Spotrac, a website that tracks contract data for athletes, Leonard would make slightly more than $36 million if he accepts the option.

Should Leonard opt into the deal, he could then sign a four-year, $181.5 million extension with Los Angeles starting in 2022-23, said Bobby Marks of ESPN.

Leonard and Paul George combined to form a dynamic twosome in Los Angeles before Leonard’s injury in the playoffs. During his 11 playoff contests, Leonard averaged over 30 points a game.

George signed a five-year deal with the Clippers before the 2020-21 season, meaning the duo could be a force for years to come — depending on Leonard’s looming contract decision and recovery process from a partially torn ACL.

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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