LOS ANGELES — Steve Palmer, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, raised his hands and began swinging back and forth as he began to think about the idea of a healthy Koi Leonard returning this next season.
After not having Leonard all last season while recovering from a right anterior cruciate ligament tear, Palmer said on Tuesday he was “really excited” about the Clippers, noting that they should be staring at the deep post-season run if they can stay healthy for an entire regular season. And a one-time postseason.
“I think the sky is the limit for our team,” he said. “It will be our effort and our energy. Of course, you have to have a bit of good luck to win the Larry O’Brien Cup, which we really love.”
The Clippers weren’t so lucky with injuries. Leonard has not played since injuring his knee during the fourth quarter of Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz on June 14, 2021. Paul George was limited to 31 games last regular season due to an elbow injury, and returned to play in late March.
With Leonard expected to return, the Clippers are expected to contend for the title. They are also expected to add base guard John Wall, who plans to sign a free agent deal with the Clippers, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon.
A source told ESPN that Wall, who was owed $47.4 million from the Houston Rockets after exercising his player option for the final year of his contract, agreed to a buyout with Houston for $6.5 million less to become a free agent. Wall can make up that amount, roughly a mid-level exception for taxpayers, once he can negotiate a deal with the Clippers.
The wall will fill a need at the guard post in Los Angeles. He averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists in 40 games in 2020-21 before missing the entirety of last season.
News of Wall’s potential signing with the Clippers has improved title odds at Caesars Sportsbook. They now have the third shortest odds (+700), behind the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics.
The Clippers also agreed to a three-year, $33 million contract extension with starting center Ivica Zubak, Vojnarowski reported Tuesday.
However, Clippers’ title hopes rest on Leonard’s ability to come back and stay healthy. Palmer was asked about the possibility of Leonard returning to the field next season.
“Come on, man,” Palmer said excitedly. “[Leonard is] Not only your best player but one of the most prominent players in the world. I’m so excited about it. Kohi at the gym. It’s working, we’re over our fingers, everything is going on schedule.”
Lawrence Frank, head of basketball operations for the Clippers, said last week that Leonard is ahead but has yet to do 5-on-5 basketball activities.
Palmer was speaking Tuesday from the Michelle and Barack Obama Sports Center, where he was with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to celebrate the renovation of 350 public basketball courts in Los Angeles The Clippers, Palmer and his wife Connie have invested more than $12 million in the project. .
Palmer has made no secret of how long the Clippers – who lost in play last season after reaching the Western Conference Finals the previous season – could play next season if things break down.
“I think if we stay healthy next year, we’ll have a chance to speak up so late,” Palmer said. [postseason]. How is that?”