'I took the time': Clippers' Kawhi Leonard is ready for Paris Olympics

Speaking to the media for the first time since his postseason was cut short in the first round of the playoffs, Clippers star Kawhi Leonard said his injured knee was feeling good, allowing him to participate with Team USA in the upcoming Olympics.

Though the knee issues that caused him to miss the final three games of the Clippers’ series with the Mavericks were concerning enough that Leonard feared he could miss another Olympics, his return to the court over the last month have him reassured.

“I took the time,” he said Sunday. “I was able to turn [it] around over the last two weeks. I’m out here now and I’m having a good time.”

Leonard declined to comment about Paul George’s decision to leave the Clippers in free agency, initially saying he wanted to just answer questions about Team USA. Leonard later clarified that he didn’t have problems with George or his decision to sign elsewhere.

As far as his decision to play this summer in Paris, Leonard said the Clippers were supportive in allowing him to pursue something that he’s passionate about that he hadn’t been able to do previously when asked.

“I’m just able to play right now. So I’m happy to go out there … with these talented players and be able to learn something from them. … I’ve always wanted to play against other talent overseas and just other basketball styles and plays. It’s one of the reason why I love the game. We could all teach each other how to shoot a basketball, but all our jump shots are going to look different.”

Leonard, who has struggled with injuries throughout the second half of his career, said he’s disappointed he hasn’t been healthier, particularly last season when he tried “to play as much as possible.”

“[I] felt great and you know at a certain period of time I couldn’t go,” he said. “I tried the best that I could, but it’s just my journey. You know I don’t want to be in the situation that I [am] in, but I gotta take it for what it is. And you know a lot of people are watching. Supporters or doubters. But I motivate a lot of people.

“So I gotta keep doing what I’m doing.”

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