Thursday’s star-studded NBA preseason matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets at the Stan Sheriff Center is rapidly becoming star-less.
National and Southern California news outlets reported today that one of the Clippers’ new superstars, reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, will not play in this week’s two exhibitions as the Clippers ease him into action. It was reported Sunday that the team’s other star, forward Paul George, will miss the entire preseason as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.
Also today, it was reported that Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook will miss the team’s first two preseason games. The former Oklahoma City guard, who was traded in the offseason, cheered on his new teammates from the bench in today’s 140-71 preseason-opening win over the Shanghai Sharks in Houston.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers hinted to media that Leonard will sit out, too. The Orange County Register quoted Rivers saying, “I think this year is gonna be more like the quarterbacks, I’ll let you figure it out from there,” in a reference to Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff seeing no action in NFL preseason games this year.
The Clippers were scheduled to arrive in Honolulu tonight for their third straight training camp, but the first with two All-NBA superstars at the peak of their game. Their first practice at the Sheriff is Tuesday. After meeting the Rockets on Thursday, they play the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association here on Sunday.
The Rockets brought in Westbrook to pair him with a fellow former league MVP and his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate James Harden. Harden recorded a triple-double in 21 minutes against the Sharks. There has not yet been word on Harden’s playing status Thursday.
The matchup of star duos was a big part of the reason Thursday’s Clippers-Rockets exhibition sold out within hours when tickets went on sale on Aug. 20.