RUMOR: Kawhi Leonard staying with Clippers no longer ‘safe assumption’
The LA Clippers reached their first-ever Western Conference Finals behind masterful performances from Kawhi Leonard and Paul George throughout the playoffs. The team ultimately fell short of their NBA Championship goal once Kawhi Leonard suffered a partially torn ACL.
Because of the way the Clippers fought without him in the playoffs, many assumed Leonard was a lock to re-sign with the team this summer, assuming he opted out of the final year of his deal to become a free agent. Over the last few weeks, however, reports have come out that Leonard may be keeping his options more open than anyone thought.
According one report from Marc Stein, Leonard staying with the Clippers is not longer a ‘safe assumption.’
“The Mavs will try to do everything they can to get Kawhi Leonard. The Knicks and the Heat will try as well. The situation with Kawhi is no longer a safe assumption he’s staying with the Clippers.”
If we know anything about Kawhi Leonard and his camp, it’s that they’re very tight-lipped and don’t leak information to members of the media. Everyone saw how 2019 free agency played out, with the Clippers and Leonard staying quiet until the final announcement was made.
The two-time NBA Finals MVP recently bought a $17 million house in the Pacific Palisades while already owning a condo across the street from Staples Center and another home in San Diego. Kawhi Leonard also invested in the Moreno Valley and Los Angeles communities over the last few years, so it’s hard to believe he’d leave.
When asked about how Paul George’s extension back in December of 2020 would affect his decision, Leonard told members of the media he wasn’t worried about it. He did, however, say his health would play a factor in his decision to opt in or out of the final year of his deal..
“Just for my situation right now, I’m just focused on this season,” Kawhi Leonard said in December. “I’m not saying I’m going anywhere else or staying here, but I’m just focused on the season. Obviously, if I’m healthy, the best decision is to decline the player option, but that doesn’t mean I’m leaving or staying. I’m focused on the season, like I said. We’ll talk about that when the time is right.”
“I’m just focused on this season. Not saying I’m going anywhere else or staying here. The best decision is to decline player option, but that doesn’t mean I’m leaving or staying.”
– Kawhi Leonard on his free agency. pic.twitter.com/0QR3JJUP2z
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) December 21, 2020
Kawhi Leonard’s deadline to decline his player option with the Clippers is August 1st, but both sides can have contractual discussions over the next few weeks leading up to the start of free agency.