The Los Angeles Clippers announced Kawhi Leonard underwent surgery to repair a partially-torn ACL yesterday. This came as a surprise to just about everybody because, ever since the superstar got hurt in the second round of these playoffs, the Clippers said it was nothing more than a knee sprain. That is technically correct, since the definition of a knee sprain is overstretched or torn ligaments and ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament, but "knee sprain" and "torn ACL" have very different connotations in the sporting world.
In calling Kawhi's injury a knee sprain, the Clippers masked the seriousness of it all, even if they didn't lie and won't be in trouble with the league. But Skip Bayless is here to tell you that the Clippers have been in the dark like the rest of us in regards to Kawhi's latest knee issue.
Bayless said on Undisputed Wednesday morning that Los Angeles didn't even know Leonard needed surgery until his team reached out yesterday to inform the organization that a statement had to be released about the successful completion of said surgery.
"He had the surgery, and the Clippers weren't even aware he was going to have the surgery until Kawhi and company called them yesterday and said, 'We need to go ahead and release that we had surgery.'... How much would that scare you, if you were the Clippers, that you were completely out of that loop for all those playoff games that he even needed surgery?"
Bayless reported Kawhi would both be out for the rest of the playoffs and need surgery while the Clippers were still duking it out with the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals. He ended up being right on both accounts, so credit will be given where it's due. In that same report, Bayless also said that Kawhi's camp had conflicts with the Clippers' medical staff over the initial diagnosis of the severity of his injury. We've yet to get any solid confirmation on that, but if the FOX Sports host is on the money with how the Clippers have been kept in the dark, there might be something there, too.
This is a touch concerning, to be sure, if I were Steve Ballmer. On the other hand, Kawhi has always been extremely secretive and weird about his injury stuff. It's what drove him out of San Antonio. It would be no surprise to anyone if one of the conditions for Kawhi joining the Clippers in summer 2019 was that the medical staff stayed out of his way and the team let the superstar forward deal with his own doctors. It's not great by any means, though.
This could indicate writing on the wall in regards to Kawhi's free agency decision. Bayless himself said he considers the possibility of a bombshell on the opening day of free agency more likely in light of this news. But it still feels like a long shot he'll leave the Clippers. He'll probably opt out, but the Clippers are the only team who can offer Kawhi a Bird Rights contract worth $235 million over four years in the 2022 offseason. That preposterous amount of money combined with the fact that his only public desire is to live in southern California indicates that the Clippers would have to make a massive mistake to get him to leave.