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Kevin Durant hopeful for a healthy Kawhi Leonard: ‘The league is better though when Kawhi Leonard is playing’

Photo: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant is nothing but hopeful that Kawhi Leonard will soon become consistently available to play.

The Nets outlasted the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night in a battle of shorthanded teams that are missing plenty of star power. While Durant stood up actively and willed his team with a highly efficient 27 markers, Leonard is still on his way from knee recovery, as he ramped up and recently participated in the Clippers’ five-on-five workout.

Though his absence served as a huge advantage for them to pick up an easy 110-95 win, Durant still believes that in the big picture, a healthy Leonard greatly benefits the whole league. 

“He’s an all-time great,” Durant told ClutchPoints’ Tom Azarly about Leonard. “He’s been through injuries before. He knows how to deal with his body. He knows his body better than anybody.

“The league is better though when Kawhi Leonard is playing. Definitely helped, it was easier not having him on the floor tonight as far as we need wins, but would love to see him back soon.”

After experiencing soreness in his right knee, Leonard was shelved by the Clippers for extreme precautionary measures in the early portion of this season. The said knee sustained the partial ACL tear back in 2021 playoffs, which ultimately required him to take a surgery and a 2021-22 season-long absence to recover.

He has missed the previous ten games of the Clippers, who went 5-5 in that stretch. For Durant, coach Ty Lue deserves the credit for holding down the line with the two-time Finals MVP taking his time to be back sooner.

“Just think players like playing hard for him,” Durant continued. “You got a lot of trick plays out of timeouts that can drive you crazy as a player. And he coaches all game. I really appreciate the coaches that get up out their seat and coach possessions and walk their guys through stuff.

“It’s a lot of chatter on their bench from their coaches and that just comes from having a tight coaches locker room and that’s all led by T-Lue.”

Brooklyn and L.A. will meet again on Feb. 6 next year. As such, fans can only hope that both Durant and Leonard will be activated for a marquee matchup.

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