Kawhi Leonard would be in "phenomenal shape" if the NBA season resumes, according to Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.

The NBA was suspended on March 11 amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed at least 88,200 lives globally.

It remains to be seen when and if the 2019-20 season will restart amid the coronavirus crisis, with commissioner Adam Silver saying the league will not be able to make any decisions regarding the campaign until at least May.

Clippers superstar Leonard – who moved to Los Angeles in the offseason after leading the Toronto Raptors to the title last season – has been the subject of load management this term to deal with a knee problem.

But Rivers told reporters on Wednesday: "I know Kawhi's overworking, I can guarantee you that. And the difference is, during the summer, Kawhi couldn't work, you know, so now he's got this break and he's able to train.

"So the Kawhi we'll see will be in phenomenal shape. PG [Paul George] is another guy that's gonna be in phenomenal shape."

"If this gets started, you can tell our players are invested in the season," Rivers said. "And they don't want this season to go away. And they're working like it is not going to go away."

The Clippers (44-20) had won seven of their last eight games to be second in the Western Conference, behind city rivals the Los Angeles Lakers (49-14), before the NBA was shut down.

Various options are being discussed, including playing behind closed doors and the season heading straight into the playoffs if the campaign resumes.

"If it means we get to play and continue our pursuit for the goal that we want, I feel like Dr. Seuss: 'I will play anywhere. I will play in a house, I will play in a mouse,'" Rivers said. "I think that's how our team feels. We don't care where, when, why, what. We just want to go after our goal. I'm speaking by myself on that."

On the Clippers' season up until the postponement, Rivers added: "We're really good. What I know for real was the last 10 games, we were turning into the Clippers. You could literally feel it... We started understanding each other... we were playing seamlessly through Kawhi and PG -- it wasn't forced anymore. Guys weren't trying to stay out of each other's way.

"You could feel the rhythm. Even the Lakers loss [on March 8] where we, in my opinion, played horrendous in that game, and that was one of our step-back games... we still had a chance and it was our D game, you know?"

"I really thought we were about to make a crazy run down the stretch. And unfortunately, bam, it stopped. ... I love where we were at. And seeing the way we play and how we were coming together, this team's good, I think we could beat anybody."

Doc Rivers is concerned Paul George could face another spell on the sidelines after suffering a recurrence of a hamstring injury during the Los Angeles Clippers' defeat to the Boston Celtics.

George did not emerge for the second half of a 141-133 double-overtime loss at TD Garden on Thursday.

The guard missed 10 NBA matches last month with a hamstring problem and Clippers head coach Rivers fears he may be without the guard again after the All-Star break.

"He just told me that he felt his hamstring again," said Rivers. "He said it wasn't bad. I said, 'You shouldn't have told me that'.

"I don't think he wanted to come out. But once you tell me your hamstring, you feel anything, we have an All-Star break coming up, it's a no-brainer for us."

Asked if he was worried about the injury, Rivers replied: "Yeah, I am. I'm a little concerned about that one because that's the second time now, maybe third.

"Listen, I don't know what to do, but I know rest you have to do and we'll see."

Rivers is hoping for a change of fortune with injuries for the remainder of the season, with the Clippers (37-18) well poised in third place in the Western Conference.

"We had a first half of the season where we basically had more starting line-ups than probably anybody in the league. Our record is pretty solid." Rivers added.

"We've got to get healthy. That's going to be the key for us. And then we've got to play multiple games in a row as a group so we can kind of get some continuity.

"But other than that, I love our spirit, I love how we are. We're good."

Gregg Popovich shared a "deep sense of loss" and Doc Rivers battled tears as two of the NBA's most recognisable coaches addressed Kobe Bryant's death.

Los Angeles Lakers legend Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed their deaths after the news was initially reported by American outlet TMZ.

Nine people were believed to have been killed in the incident, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced. There were no survivors.

The San Antonio Spurs were among the first teams to take to the court after the news emerged and head coach Popovich said their sorrow would stretch far and wide.

"Everybody's pretty emotional about the tragedy with Kobe," Popovich told reporters after a 110-106 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

"All of us know what a great player he was, but he went beyond great playing. He was a competitor that goes unmatched. It's what made him as a player so attractive to everybody, that focus, that competitiveness, that will to win.

"Even more importantly than that, we all feel a deep sense of loss for what he meant to all of us, in so many ways. So many millions of people loved him for so many different reasons. It's just a tragic thing.

"We all think about the family and the process they're going to be going through right now. That's where our thoughts should be."

Los Angeles Clippers coach Rivers retired from playing the season before Bryant debuted and struggled through an emotional news conference prior to his team's game against the Orlando Magic.

"The news is just devastating to everybody who knew him a long time," he said. "He means a lot to me, obviously. He was such a great opponent. It's what you want in sports.

"He had that DNA that very few athletes can ever have. I was getting to know him more since he retired. This is a tough one.

"The news is just devastating for [wife] Vanessa and his family. So many people he touched. Looking at my young players and how emotional they are, they didn't know him and that tells you how far his reach was."

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers insists there is no way he should have been ejected in Sunday's defeat to the Denver Nuggets.

It was a disappointing evening for the Clippers, who fell short in a rally to fall to a 114-104 loss on the road.

Rivers allowed frustration to get the better of him with a little over a minute remaining when Patrick Beverley was pinged for fouling the influential Nikola Jokic.

After Jokic nailed the free-throws, Rivers – who was already reeling from seeing Montrezl Harrell called for an offensive charge against Jerami Grant earlier in the quarter – remonstrated with official Nick Buchert and received two technical fouls to be ejected. 

"Listen, coaches can lose their composure, so can officials," Rivers said. "There's no way I should have been thrown out of the game.

"The pick was solid. The bottom line is I shouldn't get a tech. That's number one. That's on me."

Jokic impressed for the Nuggets with 20 points, 15 rebounds and six assists and Rivers conceded his team did not get to grips with the Denver dangerman.

"Post-ups, he's great. Passing, he's great. Shooting, he's great," Rivers said. "Not a lot of weaknesses there. Just got to guard him hard."

The Clippers were without Paul George (hamstring) for the second straight game and Rivers said "we'll just keep evaluating" when asked about his progress.

Doc Rivers hit back after Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James spoke out against load management, a concept the Los Angeles Clippers have used with Kawhi Leonard.

The Clippers have handed Leonard – whose minutes were managed carefully in the Toronto Raptors' championship-winning 2018-19 season as he made his comeback from a quadriceps issue – a number of games off this season in an aim to keep him fit for the playoffs.

After the Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, 17-year NBA veteran James made his thoughts on the issue clear.

He said: "If I'm healthy I'll play. That should be the approach. Unless we're getting to late in the season, we've clinched and we can't get any better or worse, I could benefit from that, but why wouldn't I play if I'm healthy? It doesn’t make any sense to me, personally.

"I mean, I don't know how many games I've got left in my career. I don't know how many kids that may show up to a game that are there to see me play and if I sit out, then what? That's my obligation. My obligation is to play."

When James' remarks were posed to Rivers, the head coach stated the philosophies of the two franchises likely differ because the Lakers' is based on "whatever LeBron says".

"It's our philosophy. I don't know what theirs are. I think theirs is whatever LeBron says it is, to be honest," said Rivers.

"That makes a lot of sense to me. I like what we are doing, and I think it's the smart thing to do. Who knows? We'll see at the end."

Paul George had no problem with being booed by Indiana Pacers fans as he led the Los Angeles Clippers to victory on Monday, but suggested they should direct their vitriol closer to home.

George spent seven years with the Pacers before leaving for Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017.

The 29-year-old switched Oklahoma for LA in the offseason, joining the Clippers along with Kawhi Leonard, who led the Toronto Raptors to the championship last season.

Six-time All-Star George was the star of the show for the Clippers on Monday, scoring 36 points and nine rebounds in a 110-99 triumph in Indianapolis.

He was also the recipient of boos and jeers throughout, yet he claimed the Pacers' fans are targeting the wrong person.

"I'm not surprised," George told reporters. "That's Indiana for you. It's a Hoosier thing.

"You know, someday I'll do a tell-all and tell the leading events of how I left Indiana and I promise you, I'm not the one to boo.

"I'm not gonna share the teaser, I like being the villain. I'm here two nights out of the year. The people that boo are here a lot longer than I am."

Asked to elaborate further, George stated he had nothing negative to say about Kevin Pritchard, who had said George's trade request in 2017 "was like a punch to the gut".

"You're getting close to trying to get this story out, aren't you?" George said. "I'm not going to bad-mouth KP. That's just Kevin's side of the story."

Clippers coach Doc Rivers, meanwhile, acknowledged he had been surprised at the level of hostility George received.

"Yeah, I was shocked," Rivers told reporters. "I really was. I was ill-equipped. It was offensive to me.

"But I was unprepared for that, I didn't know it was bad feelings and it was lingering. Obviously it was."

The Clippers are next in action on Wednesday, when it will be Leonard's turn to make a return to his former team the Raptors, and George is anticipating a markedly different reception.

"The opposite of what it was like [Monday]," he said.

Austin Rivers does not expect to go out for dinner with Doc Rivers anytime soon after calling for his father and Los Angeles Clippers head coach to be ejected in the Houston Rockets' win.

Doc Rivers was ejected for arguing with official Tony Brothers late in the fourth quarter of the Clippers' 102-93 loss to the Rockets in Houston on Wednesday.

The officials had some help from Rockets guard Austin Rivers, who laughed and signalled for Doc Rivers to be given a technical foul.

Austin Rivers continued to troll Doc as he left the court for the locker room before later tweeting: "Welp… thanksgiving is going to be weird…."

Speaking to reporters post-game, Austin Rivers – who played under Doc during his time with the Clippers before joining the Washington Wizards and eventually the Rockets in 2018 – was asked if he enjoyed the technical fouls on his father.

"I did," Austin Rivers said. "I knew it was coming. I could see it. I've seen that look before, many times.

"Once he starts blinking his eyes fast and he starts [imitates Doc getting mad], that's when I know he is about to level up. So I just started telling Tony to get him. They got him. He's out of here."

"I was just trying to help out the situation," Austin Rivers added. "Listen guys, I don't ever like to escalate anything. Y'all don't know me for that. I've always been a peacemaker. That's just 100 per cent Doc's gotta keep his cool."

"I doubt we'll go to dinner or anything like that," he continued. "He actually is sensitive about stuff like that, so we'll see what happens. I love him. It was a really good moment, though. I enjoyed it a lot. I'm not going to lie to you, I really did enjoy that. It was fun."

Doc Rivers said he was aware Austin called for him to receive a technical, adding: "He should".

Paul George is likely to make his long-awaited Los Angeles Clippers bow against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday.

George sat out Wednesday's 102-93 loss to the Houston Rockets as the star recruit continues to rehabilitate from a pair of offseason shoulder operations.

The two minor shoulder surgeries have postponed George's Clippers debut, however, the six-time NBA All-Star is poised to make his first appearance for Los Angeles.

Asked about George and his potential debut prior to the midweek defeat to the Rockets, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said: "Maybe tomorrow [Thursday] or whenever we play after that."

George – along with 2018-19 champion Kawhi Leonard – joined the Clippers in the close season, with the Oklahoma City Thunder trading the 29-year-old for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, five first-round draft picks, and the rights to swap two other first-round picks.

While George is set to make his debut, he may not do so alongside Leonard as the Clippers navigate back-to-back games.

Leonard has already sat out this season due to load management and Rivers added: "Honestly, it has probably been harder than we thought because we are still in the process of getting Kawhi right 100 percent, and then you don't have Paul at all.

"Then you have a select few practices, and you have to make a choice every practice: Do you put Paul in the line-up even though he's not playing, but then you got to play tomorrow with another group, or do you put Paul in the second group, and we have chosen the second group, even the third group at times.

"I don't think he's yet to play even one minute with the starting line-up yet. It's just going to take time."

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard is looking forward to his reunion with reigning NBA champions the Toronto Raptors.

Leonard led the Raptors to their first NBA title last season before leaving Toronto for the Clippers via free agency.

A two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP, Leonard will reunite with the Raptors when the Clippers face Toronto on Monday and he is relishing the clash.

"It's going to be fun to see the guys," Leonard said. "And just congratulate them and be able to shake hands and compete."

Asked what he will remember about his one and only season with the Raptors after being dealt by the San Antonio Spurs, Leonard added: "The guys, the journey. Also the country. The city was amazing. And it's just so much, you can keep going on and talking about it.

"I never went in with a negative mindset. Playing with Cory Joseph in San Antonio, him being from that area in Toronto, I knew what the city kind of brought... I always felt positive with the trade and the front office.

"I knew it was great already with Masai [Ujiri] being in there. So it was never a negative thing, always open-minded about it."

Three-time All-Star Leonard is averaging 29.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game with the Clippers this season.

"It's not like he left in bad terms, really," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said about Leonard's Raptors exit.

"It's one of those leave-good situations, not one of those leave-awful situations, and let's be honest, in our league it's usually the other way. He's had the rare benefit of being able to leave in a happy state. Has it happened? If it is, it's rare."

Paul George teamed up with Leonard at the Clippers after leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason and he could make his debut on Monday.

However, George – who has been recovering from shoulder surgery – is likelier to debut for the Clippers following the Raptors showdown, with games against the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans to come.

"It's going to take time for conditioning," Rivers said. "You don't not play - when did they lose? - yeah, he hasn't played since April and then you walk in a game in November... it's just not done. I don't know, I doubt he plays [Monday], but it's a possibility. It's possible I may play, too, for that matter. I don't know the answer. I really don't."

Kawhi Leonard played down being compared to Michael Jordan by Doc Rivers after inspiring the Los Angeles Clippers to a 105-94 victory over the Utah Jazz.

Rivers stated during the play-offs last season that Leonard was "the most like Jordan that we've seen", a compliment that cost him $50,000 for violating the NBA's anti-tampering policy.

The Clippers coach was asked about that statement again at Staples Center on Sunday and replied: "I said there's no body type more like Michael Jordan's than Kawhi, and I actually said because of his hands and his length.

"And I did say part of his game, his in-between game."

Leonard then led the Clippers with 30 points - 18 scored in the final quarter - in a defeat of the Jazz before being quizzed about Rivers' comments.

"Just to be able to get recognised for my talents and where I came a long way to where I am now and just showing my hard work is paying off," said the small forward.

Leonard said taking aggressive approach and not hiding was the key to his final-quarter exploits.

"If you are able to make shots and lead your team to a victory I think it's great. With me it's just about taking advantage of the moment and not shying away." he said.

"Just keep going to your spots and shooting and keep being aggressive for the team.

"That's what I take my pride in, you are not going to make every shot that you shoot to win a game, or every shot in the fourth quarter, so to me it's about keep being aggressive and having fun and see what happens with the results."

Doc Rivers limited Kawhi Leonard to 32 minutes as he felt the Los Angeles Clippers never had a chance of continuing their winning start to the NBA season at the Phoenix Suns.

The Clippers defeated rivals the Los Angeles Lakers and then went to the Golden State Warriors and won to begin the campaign, but that run ended with a 130-122 defeat.

Star signing Leonard had been the key in each of their prior victories, and he had 27 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists as the Clippers went down on Saturday.

Rivers revealed Leonard, whose playing time was restricted in the regular season last time out with the Toronto Raptors, could have played 35 minutes if he had thought the game was within their grasp.

"He got hot and made a couple of shots. We tried to keep him in that 30-minute range, 35 – we could have gone to 35 if we'd wanted to," Rivers said.

"Honestly, I didn't think we were going to win the game. We could have kept him in, but 35 is a lot of minutes. We could play him [for] that if we want; I just chose not to.

"I'm not going to keep him out there when we're not playing right as a group. Why keep him out there?"

He added: "We never made a run. It's called a fake run. It's what you do in the NBA.

"You're down by 12, you cut it to seven, everybody thinks you made a run, and then they make a wide-open three – like they've been doing all game – and the run's over. I never thought we were a threat."

Giving an assessment of the game as a whole, Rivers paid tribute to the Suns.

"Listen, even if we had won the game, we had no business winning that game," he said. "They just played so much harder, they were so much more committed to what they were doing.

"In every aspect of the game, I thought they were better. Monty [Williams, Suns coach] did a better job. They just really deserved to win the game.

"I thought offensively – we had, what, eight assists at half-time – we've been a ball-moving team and we didn't move the ball. But give them credit – I thought a lot of that was clearly their ball pressure.

"I thought [Jevon] Carter did an amazing job defensively. He just put pressure on everybody. That's what Proviso East kids do, for the record, and he did it. He was absolutely fabulous. I thought [Devin] Booker kept his composure.

"There were a lot of fouls called. We got a lot of them in the first half and you know the old human nature thing: in the second half, it's going to get even somehow. We had a penalty within two minutes. That was troublesome.

"But other than that, we deserved to lose. We really did. Give them credit."

Kawhi Leonard was filled with emotion as he described an "amazing" return to Los Angeles after leading the Clippers to victory over the Lakers on the NBA's opening night.

Without Paul George, the Clippers won 112-102 against a Lakers team containing LeBron James and Anthony Davis at Staples Center.

Leonard produced an influential performance, as a game-high 30 points came with six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.

He was heavily booed by Lakers fans after turning down the chance to join the team in favour of joining their city rivals.

But Leonard, who won the NBA title with the Toronto Raptors last year, provided the perfect answer, hitting seven straight shots at one stage as the Clippers scored 40 points in the second quarter.

"All those emotions went through me again," Leonard said of his Clippers debut back in his hometown.

"Once I'm playing the game, I'm locked in. But before the game last night there were a lot of emotions, knowing my family was going to be here and that I'm going to be playing here at Staples, my hometown – it's just amazing.

"It was great, a lot of emotions, game one. I'm just happy we came out and got a victory. We played a great practice the last week, everyone competing and pushing everybody's limits and we had some carry over.

"I just made shots pretty much. I felt like I got to my spots early, missed some little chippies but started making shots. That's what happens."

Lakers fans targeted Leonard with boos when the lineups were announced and again as he attempted to address the Clippers' fans before the game.

"I just heard a loud noise," he said. "I was just trying to be as loud as I can. I wasn't sure if the Clipper fans were being loud or if it was the Laker fans.

"I didn't pay attention to it too much. I was just trying to let the fans know the appreciation we have for them for coming out."

Clippers coach Doc Rivers was impressed by Leonard's first outing, while also recognising the importance of the bench, who outscored the Lakers' second unit 60-19.

"He talks with his game," Rivers said of Leonard. "I think that's the way it should be. It's a great sign of leadership.

"He was intense. You could feel the intensity, there's no doubt about that. And this bench is going to be better this year than even last year."

Leonard, who was 10-of-19 shooting in 32 minutes, added: "These guys were a playoff team last year, they fight hard every single night. We are not going to stop just because I'm here or Paul's here.

"We're missing a couple more pieces still, with Paul and a great defender Rodney [McGruder] too."

The Clippers have another high-profile game up next, on the road against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

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