LeBron blames rise in injuries on NBA's short offseason
LeBron James was caught off guard when the NBA decided on starting the 2020-21 campaign in late December.
Leonard will be the eighth All-Star to miss at least one contest during this year's playoffs, which is a new NBA record, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The Clippers reportedly fear that the two-time Finals MVP sustained an ACL injury.
James and Lakers co-star Anthony Davis were among numerous marquee players to miss a significant amount of the regular season due to injury.
The 17-time All-Star admitted his ankle was never 100% during the playoffs, while Davis battled knee and groin issues during L.A.'s first-round series.
The Lakers returned to action just 71 days after defeating the Miami Heat in last year's NBA Finals. The average turnaround between the championship series and opening night since the 1983-84 campaign is 141 days, according to ESPN's Kirk Goldsberry.
In response to James, the league insisted the frequency of injuries this year is in line with previous seasons.
“Injury rates were virtually the same this season as they were during 2019-20 while starter-level and All-Star players missed games due to injury at similar rates as the last three seasons," NBA vice president of communications Mike Bass said in a statement to The New York Times' Marc Stein.
"While injuries are an unfortunate reality of our game, we recognize the enormous sacrifices NBA players and teams have made to play through this pandemic."