NBA

'Sky is the limit': Ballmer bullish about Clippers' 2022-23 prospects with fit-again Leonard

By Sports Desk June 28, 2022

Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is bullish about his side's prospects for the 2022-23 season with the return of Kawhi Leonard.

The Clippers reached the Conference Finals for the first time in 2021, but missed the playoffs in 2022 with Leonard absent for the entire campaign due to an ACL injury.

Leonard sustained the injury in Game 4 of the 2021 Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Utah Jazz.

Paul George was also restricted to only 31 games in the 2021-22 season with a niggling elbow injury, as they finished with a 42-40 record.

The Clippers are expected to be boosted by Leonard and George both having a clean bill of health while point guard John Wall is set to join in a free-agent deal after he reached a buy-out agreement with the Houston Rockets.

"I think the sky is the limit for our team," Ballmer said. "It'll be our effort, our energy.

"Of course, you got to have a little good luck to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy, which is what we really like.

"I think if we stay healthy next year we are going to be having a chance to talk way late into the [postseason]."

Leonard, who is a two-time NBA Finals MVP (2014 and 2019), looms large as the key to the Clippers' chances.

The 31-year-old small forward averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and a career-high 5.2 assists per game in the 2020-21 regular season. He averaged a career-high 27.1 points in his first season with the Clippers in 2019-20.

"[Leonard is] not only your best player but one of the preeminent handful of top players in the world," Ballmer said.

"I am really excited about that. Kawhi's in the gym. He's working, and we got our fingers crossed everything keeps going on schedule."

The Clippers also confirmed on Tuesday that they had signed a three-year $33 million contract extension with center Ivica Zubac.

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