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Report: Clippers officials irked at notion they’re desperate to sign Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard, Raptors, Clippers

It’s no secret the Los Angeles Clippers want to sign Toronto Raptors All-Star small forward Kawhi Leonard next summer when the two-time Defensive Player of the Year can become an unrestricted free agent. The Clippers have been sending scouts and president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank to a bevy of Raptors games this season to get an up close look of Leonard.

However, there are some officials within the Clippers organization who are upset media outlets are portraying them as being desperate to sign Kawhi Leonard, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Much has been made of their frequent attendance at Raptors games, how president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank and the rest of their front office team have been seen scouting an inordinate amount of games that include Leonard (ditto, allegedly, for Durant). The uniqueness of their approach is debatable.

Yet regardless of the specifics, a picture was being painted about their Leonard pursuit that irked team officials: Just four months after sparking headlines during the summer when they fired commentator Bruce Bowen for making negative comments about Leonard, they were now being portrayed like the guy at the middle school dance who is trying way too hard to get noticed by the girl.

Exhibit A? The Deadspin headline that followed the report about the Clippers’ plans: The Clippers desperately want Kawhi Leonard to know they like him.

No team in the NBA wants to be categorized as being desperate to sign another player, because if they don’t accomplish their goal, then all of their recruitment attempts will look silly.

Kawhi Leonard has been heavily linked to the Clippers ever since he requested a trade from the San Antonio Spurs. The 27-year-old swingman reportedly preferred the Spurs to send him to either the Clippers or Lakers over the summer, and some believe the Clippers have an edge over the Lakers in the Leonard sweepstakes now that LeBron James is in purple and gold. The prevailing thought is that Leonard doesn’t want to live in the shadow of James.

The Raptors can offer Kawhi Leonard the most money in free agency and a fifth year in the contract. We’ll see what happens this offseason.