Clippers guard Luke Kennard could return as soon as Thursday

Luke Kennard approached his locker inside Area 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 sport in opposition to Minnesota, sidelining him ever since.

The wait quickly might be over. Kennard and the staff are leaving open the likelihood 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 taking part in reside so it’s simply ensuring that it’s gone 100%,” Kennard advised The Occasions. “I left the final highway journey to return again and velocity it up a bit bit extra. I’m prepared. It’s irritating, it’s annoying, so it’s time to return again.”

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 might additionally permit the coach to start implementing modifications to his rotation that he hinted at in latest weeks — shifts in taking part in time for the staff’s corps of guards that Lue mentioned hinged on Kennard being again.

“We’ve a plan in place,” Lue mentioned Jan. 8, “however till Luke simply will get wholesome, we gained’t see it but.”

Kennard traveled with the staff 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 “nonetheless feeling it a bit bit,” he mentioned, and since he wished to get on the courtroom extra persistently. He dressed for the staff’s shootaround Tuesday morning earlier than a sport in opposition to the Lakers and he mentioned he has performed in reside video games of three-on-three.

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

“Simply getting snug and getting these game-speed reps again,” Kennard mentioned. “I’m getting extra snug with it. It’s going actually good, although. Quicker than we thought.”

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