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Kawhi Leonard sat out the Los Angeles Clippers’ 90-88 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.
It was his third straight missed game due to a left knee contusion.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, doctor evaluations revealed there was no further damage incurred on his knee and he’s listed day-to-day.
The 2019 NBA Finals MVP has been sidelined since injuring his knee during the Clippers’ 102-93 loss to the Houston Rockets last week.
Previously, the term used to explain Leonard’s absence in games had been “load management.” But now, L.A. has been using the term “left knee injury management” as the reason for him being held out of games.
The Clippers caught some flak for the way they are managing Leonard, and head coach Doc Rivers was fined $50,000 for his statement about resting his star player.
The Klaw was not happy about that.
“It’s just disappointing. It feels like they want players to play even if they’re not ready,” Leonard told USA Today‘s Mark Medina last week. “I don’t read into it. I have to do what will make me healthy and help the team be successful. That’s me being able to play basketball games for us.”
Rivers doesn’t believe there’s any concern Leonard’s injury will go beyond being a day-to-day issue, but he said last week that’s because of how they’ve managed the player and they’ll continue to do what they’ve been doing to ensure he feels great.
“We’re going to manage it the best way we can to keep me healthy,” Leonard said. “That’s the most important thing moving forward.”
Leonard’s injury history goes back to his days with the San Antonio Spurs, where he hurt his right quadriceps.
Since then, he’s built a reputation lately for missing games. He hasn’t played in a back-to-back since 2017 with the Spurs.
As a member of the Clippers, he’s played in nine of 14 games, but he has yet to take the floor alongside new teammate Paul George.
George, who came to L.A. via trade this summer to join forces with Leonard, made his season debut in the team’s 132-127 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. He scored 33 points while shooting 10-of-17 from the floor. He also grabbed nine rebounds and dished out four assists.
George followed that up with a 37-point performance against the Atlanta Hawks and put up 18 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer against his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“You can’t shrink the floor when you got me, Lou [Williams], Kawhi, Trezz,” George told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “You just can’t shrink the floor. There is no way that guys can take themselves out of the play defensively and try to face guard.
“You just can’t do that because Lou, Kawhi or myself—whoever is getting that type of defense—we are going to pick you apart and make plays offensively.”
With George playing so well, fans are eager to see him and Leonard on the court together. They may get their wish on Wednesday night, when the Clippers play host to the Boston Celtics.
For the season, Leonard is averaging a career high in points (26.8), rebounds (8.9) and assists (6.0).
Is Aaron Gordon on the Trading Block?
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The Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon’s name is starting to ring out—but not in the way he’d like it to.
According to Charania, “multiple teams are monitoring” the 24-year-old with interest should he become available, but the Magic haven’t gotten to the point where they want to move him. At least not yet.
Orlando’s record is 6-7, which puts it just below .500. That’s not the best way to start off the season, but surprisingly, it is still in the playoff hunt with the seventh-best record in the Eastern Conference.
The Magic are on a three-game winning streak, but they are still looking to turn the corner into becoming a serious contender in the East.
Right now, their best asset is Gordon, who signed a four-year, $76 million contract back in 2018.
His salary decreases each year ($19,863,636 this season, $18,136,364 in 2020-21 and $16,409,091 in 2021-22), so it helps Orlando if they want to deal him in the future.
After his performance in the playoffs last season, many felt Gordon would make a jump this year as a player. But that hasn’t gone exactly to plan.
He averaged 16 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game last season. This year, his numbers are down across the board. Through 13 games, he’s averaging 13.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per outing.
Last week, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer noted Orlando was interested in trading for San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan.
To land the four-time All Star, it would likely have to put together a package including Gordon, another young player and a draft pick.
Kevin Love Still Up for Grabs?
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Despite the rumors he’s one of the NBA’s best trade assets, Kevin Love continues to make it clear he’s happy in Cleveland.
“I know there’s talk about me possibly being the missing piece somewhere,” he told Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times. “There’s been constant chatter since I signed that I could be traded. It’s one of those things where I’m going to keep doing right by the team, by Cleveland and by the organization.
“If my number is called, so be it, but I’m going to stay true to my commitment and let the chips fall where they may.”
Love and Tristan Thompson are the only remaining players from the Cavaliers’ 2016 championship team.
The Big 3 in Cleveland is no more.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are long gone.
Now 31, the 6’10” power forward finds that he’s the oldest player on the roster on a young, rebuilding team.
“It’s different,” Love said. “It’s my sixth year here after spending my first six years in Minneapolis. I’m just trying to bring these young guys along.”
Through 13 games, Love is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 18.2 points and 12.1 rebounds per game.
The Cavs are in 12th place in the East at 4-9, but they have an exciting young core with Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr.
Love is, in fact, a viable third-best player for a team looking to bolster its championship chances, which is why Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reported the Cavs have gotten calls and will continue to get calls from teams around the league looking to make a trade for the 2011 Most Improved Player.
But as long as he’s in Cleveland, he can continue to provide veteran leadership as the team finds its new identity.
“I do want to be here. I always have,” Love told Fedor last month. “I say that knowing it’s the NBA and it’s a business. I think especially after seeing last year, the summer leading up to last year and this summer, the changeover is like unprecedented so you don’t know what is going to happen.”
Maurice Bobb covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow Maurice on Twitter, @ReeseReport.