Kawhi Leonard to make LA Clippers debut vs Nuggets

HONOLULU, HI - OCTOBER 6: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers looks on before the game against the Shanghai Sharks on October 6, 2019 at Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jay Metzger/NBAE via Getty Images)
HONOLULU, HI - OCTOBER 6: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers looks on before the game against the Shanghai Sharks on October 6, 2019 at Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jay Metzger/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Contrary to an earlier report, it seems as though superstar forward Kawhi Leonard will make his LA Clippers debut tonight against the Denver Nuggets.

Earlier today, Kawhi Leonard‘s status ahead of Thursday night’s matchup with the Denver Nuggets was not expected to change. The forward was set to miss the action due to rest, though Doc Rivers stated that he would appear in at least one preseason game. Now, we’ve learned that his status has changed and that Leonard will make his LA Clippers debut tonight.

The Athletic’s Jovan Buha was the first to report the change via Twitter. It has since been reported that Leonard will only play during the first half tonight, but that likely doesn’t change things for Clippers fans who have been patiently waiting for this very moment.

That being said, don’t expect Leonard to play much against Denver. Preserving his abilities for the long-term is still of the most priority for the star wing, so Leonard will probably only enter the game once.

It’s also been reported that Patrick Beverley and Rodney McGruder will miss tonight’s game due to injury. Neither injury is serious, so the decision is likely just precautionary.

It’s hard to imagine a better way for Leonard to make his LA Clippers debut. Rather than playing in either of LA’s first two preseason games in Hawaii, Clippers fans will get their first look at him on their newly-renovated home floor, surrounded by the familiar faces they’ve been seeing games with for decades.

Because of Beverley’s status, this also means that Leonard likely won’t be out there with the group he’ll start the regular season with on opening night. Instead, Terance Mann may start in Beverley’s place — and will likely receive a loud welcome as well.

Mann has become something of a fan favorite in his short time with LA, evolving from Summer League star to a legitimate rotation-caliber wing. Fans have been incredibly supportive of him thus far, and it seems as though the players have taken a liking to him as well.

As for the Clippers’ other major offseason splash, Paul George will remain on the sidelines until November. He’s still in the rehabilitation process from his shoulder surgeries, but he’s almost to the point where he can make his return to the floor.

The LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets will take the floor at 7:30 p.m. PST at STAPLES Center. Trust us, this isn’t one you’ll want to miss.