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LOS ANGELES — LA Clippers proprietor Steve Ballmer raised his palms up and started rocking from side to side as he started to consider the theory of a wholesome Kawhi Leonard returning this upcoming season.
After now not having Leonard all of final season whilst he recovered from a torn proper ACL, Ballmer mentioned Tuesday he’s “in reality excited” in regards to the Clippers, suggesting they must be watching a deep postseason run if they may be able to keep wholesome for a complete common season and postseason for as soon as.
“I believe the sky’s the prohibit for our crew,” he mentioned. “It’ll be our effort, our power. In fact, you were given to have a bit excellent good fortune to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy, which is what we in reality like.”
The Clippers have now not been lucky with accidents. Leonard has now not performed since injuring his knee throughout the fourth quarter of Recreation 4 of the Western Convention semifinals towards the Utah Jazz on June 14, 2021. Paul George used to be restricted to 31 video games final common season as a result of an elbow damage, returning to motion in overdue March.
With Leonard anticipated to go back, the Clippers are projected to contend for the name. In addition they are anticipated so as to add level guard John Wall, who plans to signal a free-agent take care of the Clippers, assets instructed ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon.
Wall, who used to be due $47.4 million from the Houston Rockets after exercising the participant choice for the general 12 months of his contract, agreed to a buyout with Houston to take $6.5 million much less to transform a unfastened agent, a supply instructed ESPN. Wall may make up that quantity, which is kind of the taxpayer midlevel exception, as soon as he is in a position to negotiate a take care of the Clippers.
Wall would fill a necessity at level guard for LA. He averaged 20.6 issues and six.9 assists in 40 video games in 2020-21 ahead of sitting out all of final season.
Information of Wall’s possible signing with the Clippers stepped forward their name odds at Caesars Sportsbook. They now have the third-shortest odds (+700), trailing best the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics.
The Clippers additionally agreed on a three-year, $33 million contract extension with beginning middle Ivica Zubac, Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday.
The Clippers’ name hopes, despite the fact that, relaxation on Leonard’s skill to return again and stay wholesome. Ballmer used to be requested in regards to the prospect of seeing Leonard again at the courtroom this coming season.
“Come on, guy,” Ballmer mentioned excitedly. “[Leonard is] now not best your easiest participant however one of the vital preeminent handful of most sensible gamers on this planet. I’m in reality serious about that. Kawhi’s within the health club. He’s running, and we were given our hands crossed the entirety helps to keep occurring agenda.”
Lawrence Frank, the Clippers’ president of basketball operations, mentioned final week that Leonard used to be progressing however had now not but accomplished 5-on-5 basketball actions.
Ballmer used to be talking Tuesday from the Michelle and Barack Obama Sports activities Middle, the place he used to be with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to have fun the renovation of 350 public basketball courts in L.A. The Clippers, Ballmer and his spouse, Connie, invested over $12 million into the challenge.
Ballmer made it no secret simply how lengthy the Clippers — who misplaced within the play-in final season after making the Western Convention finals the season ahead of — may well be enjoying this coming season if issues ruin their approach.
“I believe if we keep wholesome subsequent 12 months,” Ballmer mentioned, “we’re going to be having an opportunity to speak approach overdue into the [postseason]. How’s that?”