Leonard is feeling better, according to Clippers coach Ty Lue, but the forward sat out his fourth straight game Monday night against the visiting Rockets. Leonard will have missed six straight contests by the time the Clippers return from their trip on Saturday. His status for Sunday's home game against Utah remains uncertain.
"He's frustrated," Lue said before tipoff against the Rockets. "He wants to be out on the floor and then not being on the floor, and then now he can't travel. He wants to travel, but the doctor said it's not the right thing to do right now with the stiffness and what he is going through."
Leonard played in two of the Clippers' first three games of the season, logging 21 minutes in each off the bench. But he experienced stiffness in his right knee at the morning shootaround last Tuesday in Oklahoma City and sat out the game that night before leaving the team and flying back to Los Angeles to receive further treatment.
Leonard did not play all of last season due to a torn right ACL he suffered in Game 4 of Los Angeles' second-round playoff series against Utah on June 14, 2021.
The Clippers had lost four straight games prior to Monday night's 95-93 victory over Houston as they continue to search for continuity and rhythm. Besides Leonard's absence, the Clippers have had to deal with other veterans in and out of action.
John Wall is on a minutes limit and sat out Monday's game, which was the second in a back-to-back set. The Clippers were also without forward Robert Covington (health and safety protocols). Paul George (illness) missed a game earlier this season and Marcus Morris Sr. (personal) also missed two games last week.
The Clippers will have to wait to see when Leonard can return to action.
"[Leonard is] just frustrated after putting in all the work the last 15 months," Lue said. "And to get to this point and not being where he wants to be physically ... but he is getting better and that is the most important thing."