NBA

Kawhi Leonard insists 'body feels good' following Clippers return after 476 days out

By Sports Desk October 04, 2022

Two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard says his body is feeling good after making his return to NBA action after 476 days out in the Los Angeles Clippers' opening preseason game.

Leonard, who has not played for more than 15 months, was on court for 16 minutes and contributed 11 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals in a 102-97 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

The five-time NBA All-Star had been out since undergoing ACL surgery on his right knee in July 2021 after succumbing to the injury in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Utah Jazz.

"The body feels good," Leonard told reporters. "Obviously, I am not going to be playing 35 minutes, 38 minutes to start, so it is going to be a little shaky early, probably. But like I said, it is a journey, it's a process, and that is what I am about."

Leonard drilled a three-pointer only 15 seconds into his return game, which he said was a great experience.

"It was great," Leonard said. "Just being able to put all that hard work that I did throughout the 14, 16 months, just able to put it to test and playing against NBA talent, it was good.

"Just being out there with the guys and talking, I missed it. It was a great experience for me."

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue was pleased with Leonard's return, with the small forward planning to play their next preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

"Offensively, Kawhi, I thought he got a little tired," Lue said.

"But he got some shots he normally makes. But just seeing him out there on the floor just makes a big difference for our team."

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