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Rumor: Clippers star Kawhi Leonard’s likely decision in free agency after tearing ACL

Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard suffered a partially torn ACL during the playoffs that required surgery, and now he’s facing a big decision in free agency. Will he opt-in or out of his $36 million deal for 2021-22?

Marc Stein writes on Substack that the most likely scenario is Leonard opting out and then re-signing with the Clippers, though there’s still some belief out there that he could leave. The star forward hails from Southern California and seems to prefer it there, which has led many to think he wants to stay. But, again, it’s not a 100% certainty he does.

The Dallas Mavericks have been rumored as a potential Leonard suitor, and Stein brings them up again here. He says the prospect of Leonard potentially missing all of next season will not dissuade the Mavs of a chance if he actually does become available.

That does still seem like a long shot, though, and the likeliest option is Leonard being back in LA. If he does opt out, he could sign a short-term deal and then wind up getting a more lucrative long-term deal next offseason. He could also just sign a long-term contract this offseason after opting out.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes it would actually make more sense to opt in and then extend. However, as of right now, it doesn’t look like this is the route Kawhi Leonard is going to take. This will be one of the big situations to monitor as free agent opens in a few weeks.