Los Angeles Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard, Paul George sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols

Los Angeles Clippers: Paul Georgie, Kawhi Leonard, COVID-19
Sep 15, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) celebrates with forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the first half in game seven of the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs against the Denver Nuggets at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers are now the latest team to deal with issues related with attempting to play an NBA season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve seen the stories repeated over and over again in the month-plus since the 2020-21 campaign started. Teams missing star players, both due to contracting COVID-19 and stemming from the Association’s virus protocols. The red-hot Clippers will now have to play at least their next game without the team’s top stars.

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Los Angeles Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard, Paul George sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols

Los Angeles Clippers stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, COVID-19
Jan 6, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and forward Paul George (13) chase down a loose ball against the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter at the Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

“Kawhi Leonard (health and safety protocols), Paul George (health and safety protocols) and Patrick Beverley (right knee soreness) are ruled out tomorrow against Atlanta,” ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk reported on Monday.

It was just a matter of time before star players on contending teams started to be impacted by the ongoing virus. That obviously includes the Los Angeles Clippers in the nation’s second-largest media market.

It also couldn’t come at a least-ideal time for Los Angeles. Tyronn Lue’s squad has won seven consecutive games after a somewhat ho-hum start to the season. Leonard is averaging 29.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists during said winning streak. For his part, George is averaging nearly 23 points on 50% shooting during that very same span.

As the NBA continues to be dead set on team’s playing in their home markets during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing widespread issues pop up. It’s impacted competitive balance on the court and likely won’t get any better as the virus continues to spread around the United States unchecked.

The only reason for optimism is the roll out of the multiple vaccines. However, it’s also been slow going in that regard with only 1% of Americans fully vaccinated against the virus.

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Despite this, the NBA continues to push back against the idea of pausing the season and returning in the bubble-like atmosphere we saw during the league’s restart back in July of last year.

Whether that changes as more star players and contending teams are impacted by the Association’s COVID-19 protocols remains to be seen.

As for the Los Angeles Clippers, it’s not yet known whether George and Leonard will be available for Thursday’s game against the Heat in Miami. Given that they are not making the trip to Atlanta, that seems highly unlikely.