NBA superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were mostly relegated to the sidelines of the Stan Sheriff Center as the Los Angeles Clippers opened their third straight preseason camp in Honolulu today.
The Clippers’ two prominent newcomers are being eased into action for the regular season and are expected to sit for both of this week’s exhibitions of the Clippers Hawaii Classic. Leonard guided the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship in June, then made the biggest splash of the offseason in signing with the Clippers and nudging them to acquire George from the Oklahoma City Thunder via trade. George had offseason surgery to both shoulders and isn’t expected to play until November.
The Clippers being viewed as championship contenders is certainly new, but coach Doc Rivers has been a staple traveling here from the Staples Center for camp.
The @LAClippers have opened their third straight training camp in Honolulu.
Superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George watching from the side in the portion of practice opened to media today. pic.twitter.com/3OFPGurieC
— Brian McInnis (@Brian_McInnis) October 2, 2019
“I love the beach. I love the waves, the ocean. And I love the food. So I like everything. And I love the facility. For us, this is perfect,” Rivers said after practice. “(Getting away), I think it helps, that’s why we get away, because I think you do pretty good team-building.”
Los Angeles faces the Houston Rockets in a sold-out 7 p.m. exhibition Thursday at the Sheriff. The Rockets feature the superstar backcourt of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but it’s already been reported that Westbrook is expected to sit for the game. Harden’s status is to be determined.
>> Clippers open camp
George, a former Fresno State standout who played Hawaii in the Stan Sheriff Center a decade ago, was involved on 5-on-0 (no defense) drills and did some shooting after practice today.
“Absolutely (it’s tough not to play),” said George, who scored 28 points per game last season in being named to the All-NBA first team. “But I’m still engaged, I’m still a part of what’s going on without playing with contact going up and down with those guys. I’ve been trying to be helpful to the young guys and get a feel for the guys that are out there, so when I do come back, I know what I’m coming back to.”
The Clippers follow against the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association in a 1 p.m. exhibition Sunday, then return to the mainland for the rest of the preseason.