Report: Kawhi Leonard Could Return This Season, Ahead of Schedule

It's long been reported that Kawhi Leonard's recovery from a torn ACL will keep him out for the entire 2021-22 regular season at least. Now comes a report that says Leonard is actually ahead of schedule in his rehab, and could return this season. 

“Multiple sources have revealed that as of right now, Kawhi Leonard is ahead of schedule with his ACL tear rehab,” said Clippers insider Farbod Esnaashari

Leonard suffered the injury during the 2nd round of the playoffs, and had surgery in July. He signed a new four-year contract with the Clippers a month later, with the team fully expecting to play this season without him. 

He is no longer completely ruled out for '21-22, according to the sources. They are suggesting the best case scenario is that Leonard is ready to practice with the Clippers in March or April. That could get him back in the lineup at the very tail end of the regular season, and perhaps be ramped up for the playoffs. 

"Those on the team are very impressed with the progress Kawhi is making, but they fully understand how far away any type of return is from now," says Esnaashari. 

And while the team is "cautiously optimistic", they will also "exercise caution" in his continuing rehab, as any little setback could push the timeline significantly further out. And we know from past experience with Kawhi Leonard injuries while with other teams, he will not be pushed back at a pace that he is not comfortable with. 

So, yes, "caution" is the operative word here, but the goal-posts seem to have moved just a tad. 

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports