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Kawhi Leonard can not stay healthy as he is quickly becoming one of the most injury-prone professional athletes the sports world has ever seen, and Stephen A. Smith has seen enough.
After the Los Angeles Clippers did their best job in resting Leonard with load management throughout the regular season, the 31-year-old picked up a knee injury two games into the postseason and wasn’t available for the remainder of the first-round series against the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns won the series 4-1 on Tuesday while Leonard sat on the bench taking in yet another tough loss from the sideline, something he’s gotten very used to doing over the last few seasons.
While reflecting on the Clippers being bounced from the playoffs, Smith turned his focus on Leonard during Wednesday’s edition of ‘First Take.’
Given his inability to actually do the job he’s paid for – which is play basketball – Smith believes the Clippers should force Leonard to retire.
“Steve Ballmer and the Los Angeles Clippers should force Kawhi Leonard to retire,” Smith said in extremely dramatic fashion. “I’m done, he needs to go home, it’s over.”
It’s impossible to know if Smith was aware that Leonard had been diagnosed with a torn meniscus given that the news broke almost simultaneously, but it may not have mattered.
While there is no denying that Smith is putting on a performance for viewers, the Clippers cutting ties with Leonard one way or another isn’t too bad of an idea.
Leonard hasn’t played in more than 60 regular-season games since the 2016-17 season when he was with the San Antonio Spurs. In his three seasons with the Clippers, Leonard has averaged 55 regular season games played.
NBA players, especially superstars, aren’t playing in every regular-season game these days with teams being able to get away with load management, but the numbers and history surrounding Leonard are abysmal.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @itismarkharris