The L.A. Clippers saw their 2022 championship odds fall to 25/1 after Kawhi Leonard went under the knife to repair a partially torn right ACL.
No timetable has been set for Leonard’s return but he could be out for a significant part of the 2021-22 NBA season.
Leonard was coming off a sensational playoff run where he averaged 30.4 points per game on a 57/39/88 shooting splits.
After an impressive playoff run that saw them reach the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history, the L.A. Clippers debuted in the Top 5 of the 2022 NBA championship oddsboards.
Online sportsbook BetOnline had the Clippers tied with the Milwaukee Bucks with the 4th best odds to win the 2022 title at 10/1 when the odds debuted. But after news of Kawhi Leonard undergoing surgery to repair a partial tear of his right ACL on Tuesday, the Clippers fell off the ladder very quickly.
2021-2022 NBA championship odds were just now updated after the Kawhi Leonard injury news where he could miss most of next season after ACL surgery. The latest from @golfodds at @SuperBookNV:
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 14, 2021
These odds are way-too-early and the league hasn’t even crowned its 2021 champions yet but if these betting lines are an indication, it could be a tough season ahead for the Clippers, depending on how long Leonard will be out.
No Established Timetable for Return
No established timetable for Kawhi Leonard’s return, Clippers say.
Leonard has a player option for next season to return to the Clippers … or he can opt for free agency.
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 14, 2021
Right now, there is no established timetable for Leonard’s return. At least that’s what the team said when they revealed the news of Kawhi’s surgery. However, the diagnosis suggests that he could miss time during the 2021-22 NBA season.
According to the Clippers’ official statement, the injury is a partial tear of the right anterior cruciate ligament. Although the word “partial” makes it much easier to read, medical practitioners say that the surgery and recovery time is similar to that of a full ACL reconstruction which is 9-12 months.
Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie also suffered a partial ACL tear at the start of the 2020-21 season. After surgery, it took Dinwiddie six months before he was cleared for basketball activities. He targeted to return in the playoffs but did not.
The fact that the Nets played a hamstring-hampered James Harden instead of a just-recovered Dinwiddie shows just how serious and delicate an ACL injury must be treated.
Given Leonard’s history of being “very cautious” with injuries, there’s reason to believe that Kawhi won’t be attempting to return from the injury unless he’s 200%.. We saw how long he sat out when he had that quad injury in San Antonio. While nobody expects him to sit out that long again, there’s a good chance he misses a significant part of the 2021-22 regular season.
Kawhi was Having a Sensational Playoff Run
a reminder that kawhi leonard was 1st team all nba this season & then followed that up by averaging 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists in the 2021 playoffs on 57/39/88 splits. pic.twitter.com/hN02HpH3RK
— Jamal Cristopher (@Clippers24seven) July 12, 2021
Kawhi was having a sensational playoff run before he got hurt. He averaged 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game with shooting splits of 57.3/39.3/88.0 and a true shooting percentage of 67.9%.
The Clippers fell 0-2 and 2-3 down against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. But Leonard scored 36 and 29 points in Games 3 and 4 respectively and matched his playoff career high with 45 in Game 6 as the Clippers rallied to win the series. With the Utah Jazz up 2-0 on them in the second round, Leonard had 34 and 31 points in Games 3 and 4, again to knot the series at 2-2.
Paul George and Reggie Jackson carried the load after Leonard got hurt. The Clippers still managed to advance to the Conference Finals and were able to hang with the Suns for six games. But if Leonard was there, and healthy, there’s a good chance Chris Paul would be out fishing with his banana boat brothers right now.
But as it stands, CP3 is is two wins away from his first NBA title. His former team, the Clippers are still pondering about what their future holds. Nobody knows for sure when Kawhi will return, if at all. He has a $36M player option for the 2021-22 season which he was for sure going to turn down to get an extension had he not been hurt. The ACL injury changes the landscape, both for him and the Clippers.