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Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

Kawhi Leonard has no incentive to stay in L.A. if Clippers lose to Jazz

Kawhi Leonard can opt out of his current contract at the end of the season. He has zero incentive to stay in Los Angeles if the Clippers fall to the Utah Jazz.

Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers ahead of the 2019-20 season to have a chance to play at home. He also enjoyed the benefits of playing in a bigger market, notably getting more exposure via his endorsement deal with New Balance.

There is definitely a luxury in feeling comfortable in a professional setting. That might be of the utmost importance to Leonard, who is more reserved by nature. However, those luxuries might not mean quite as much if the winning does not follow. That notion should mean just as much to a fierce competitor like Leonard.

If the Clippers cannot overcome this 2-0 deficit and beat the Jazz, it’s hard to justify Kawhi Leonard remaining in Los Angeles.

To be fair: the Clippers have pretty much catered to Leonard’s wishes. “The Claw” was the one who wanted L.A. to make the massive deal for Paul George just prior to making the decision to head home. When things got iffy under former head coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers replaced him with Tyronn Lue, but not before getting input from Leonard and George.

Yet, here we are just one year later, with the Clippers on the verge of another playoff disappointment after blowing a 3-1 lead in last year’s conference semifinals. Los Angeles has had no answer for the Jazz. The Clippers don’t seem to have the depth or the size to take on the top team in the Western Conference.

More importantly, as far as Leonard is concerned, the future in L.A. just doesn’t look all that bright. To be clear, many of the pieces will still be around. George is under contract after signing a big extension with the team ahead of the season. Marcus Morris, Rajon Rondo, Patrick Beverley and Luke Kennard are all under contract through at least the 2021-22 campaign.

But… this group hasn’t been good enough to win now. There is not a lot of cap space, even less so once Leonard inevitably opts out in search of a bigger deal. Not to mention, the Clippers gave up a ton of draft capital in the George trade.

It’s becoming very difficult to find reasons for Kawhi Leonard to re-sign. If the Clippers give him big money and he simply wants to keep playing at home, that’s all well and good. However, the West has only gotten tougher, and the Clippers have limited resources in terms of their ability to improve the roster.