Clippers guard Luke Kennard may return as quickly as Thursday

Luke Kennard approached his locker inside Crypto.com Enviornment on Thursday night and, with the exasperated smile of a person bored with ready, grabbed the black jersey dangling on a hanger and shook it from its sides.

It has been some time because the reserve guard donned his Clippers jersey. Eighteen days, and 9 video games, to be actual, since a calf damage he’d first irritated Nov. 15 flared up once more after a Jan. 6 recreation in opposition to Minnesota, sidelining him ever since.

The wait quickly may very well be over. Kennard and the workforce are leaving open the chance that the reserve taking pictures 46% on three-pointers this season may return as quickly as Thursday if his restoration continues its encouraging progress.

“I’ve been doing on-court stuff and playing live so it’s just making sure that it’s gone 100%,” Kennard informed The Instances. “I left the last road trip to come back and speed it up a little bit more. I’m ready. It’s frustrating, it’s annoying, so it’s time to come back.”

Kennard’s return brings a significance that extends past having one of many NBA’s most constant shooters at coach Tyronn Lue’s disposal once more. It will additionally permit the coach to start implementing adjustments to his rotation that he hinted at in latest weeks — shifts in enjoying time for the workforce’s corps of guards that Lue mentioned hinged on Kennard being again.

“We have a plan in place,” Lue mentioned Jan. 8, “but until Luke just gets healthy, we won’t see it yet.”

Kennard traveled with the workforce on its most up-to-date three-game journey with the assumption there was a risk he may return however left the journey two video games in after he was “still feeling it a little bit,” he mentioned, and since he wished to get on the court docket extra constantly. He dressed for the workforce’s shootaround Tuesday morning earlier than a recreation in opposition to the Lakers and he mentioned he has performed in stay video games of three-on-three.

The workforce subsequent performs San Antonio on Thursday and hasn’t dominated out Kennard but, with any return probably hinging on Kennard having the ability to apply to gauge how he responds to a full-scale exercise. The workforce nonetheless considers Kennard day after day, and the guard mentioned it is going to be the workforce’s name to clear him. However he feels prepared, he added.

“Just getting comfortable and getting those game-speed reps back,” Kennard mentioned. “I’m getting more comfortable with it. It’s going really good, though. Faster than we thought.”

If Kennard does return as quickly as he hopes, the Clippers — who’ve battled accidents all season, capable of play with its roster totally accessible solely 4 instances — nonetheless received’t be completely complete. Reserve guard John Wall missed his sixth consecutive recreation Tuesday with an belly damage, although he did participate in taking pictures drills throughout a portion of shootaround open to media.