Tiki & Tierney discuss Kawhi Leonard's major knee surgery, future with Clippers


A knee injury that forced Los Angeles Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard to miss eight playoff games this summer will most likely keep him out for a good chunk of next season.

The team announced on Tuesday that Leonard underwent successful surgery to repair a partial ACL tear in his right knee, and that there's no timetable for his return. Leonard suffered the injury against the Utah Jazz in Game 4 of the West semifinals, and at that time, the Clippers -- keeping things rather close to the vest -- called it a right knee sprain.

Leonard can become an unrestricted free agent this offseason if he declines his $36 million player option for the 2021-22 season. But has the time come for him to consider long-term security with the Clippers, given his ACL injury? Tiki and Tierney discussed Leonard's future during Wednesday's show.

"He's a two-time champ. He's got all the money in the world, he's going to get another max deal," Tierney said. "So, where is the motivation to change? Where is the motivation to change? There's none. That's why I wouldn't want him if I'm another team, honestly. Not on a five-year deal... I wrote it down: possible 800-plus games in uniform, 576 games he's played. And again, do you believe that's going to get better as he ages?

"Now listen, we're almost burying the lede. These are many things most people know about Kawhi. But at the end of the day, it's really a turn-off as an NBA fan -- who's been invested in this league since the time I was seven or eight years old -- for a guy to [reportedly] think that he doesn't have to let the team know that he needs surgery. That's what drives the average fan away from the NBA quicker than any sport.

"I know they've got the hammer. I know they've got the juice. And most times, they flex it properly. But that's just incredibly unprofessional. C'mon, you're still a pro athlete, an employee of the team. C'mon, man. Give them a heads-up. That's weak. That'd piss me off if I owned the team."

During the truncated regular season, Leonard, 30, averaged a team-high 24.8 points with 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 52 games. In 11 playoff games, he averaged 30.4 points, and according to ESPN Stats & Info, Leonard became just the second player to average 30 points and 60-percent shooting through his first six games of a postseason.

If Leonard opts in to his $36 million player option for next season, he could sign a four-year, $181.5 million contract extension that would start in 2022-23.

The entire Leonard-Clippers conversation between Tiki and Tierney can be accessed in the audio player above.

You can follow the Tiki and Tierney Show on Twitter @TikiAndTierney and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.