With free agency fast approaching, there are several rumors floating around regarding the LA Clippers’ involvement with Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.
We’re nearly here. Free agency begins tomorrow, June 30, at 6:00 PM EST. And with that hour fast approaching, rumors are ramping up regarding the LA Clippers’ involvement with superstar free agents Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.
First on Durant: According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Durant reportedly plans to engage with four teams on Sunday, including the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, LA Clippers and New York Knicks.
The other three teams were essentially a given, as there’s reportedly been mutual interest there all season long. The Clippers have been rumored there as well, but it seemed as though they were never in the same kind of mix that those others were. Given that he now plans to meet with Los Angeles (and not the Lakers), it’s clear that the Clippers are officially part of the mix to land Durant this summer.
Durant could earn the most money if he re-signs with the Warriors, and while that’s the expected move, it also wouldn’t come as a shock if he signed elsewhere this summer. The Nets seem to be the favorite there, and there’s a significant chance that the odds he’ll sign there will increase if Brooklyn adds Kyrie Irving early in free agency.
However, the Clippers could still emerge as a threat to sign Durant, especially following the team’s meeting with the former MVP. It isn’t wise to underestimate Jerry West, especially given he and Durant have some history together: West was part of Golden State’s front office from 2011 to 2017, and the two earned a title together during the 2016-2017 season.
If Durant does choose the Clippers, it’s important to keep in mind that he’s expected to miss the duration of the 2019-2020 season while he rehabs a ruptured achilles.
On the Leonard front, things are a bit different. What was once a two-team race between the Toronto Raptors and the LA Clippers has now become a three-team race, with the Los Angeles Lakers being added into the mix.
According to The New York Times‘ Marc Stein, the Lakers are a serious contender to land Leonard in free agency, and may have even leaped the Clippers as a favorite to sign the two-way star.
This wasn’t possible days ago, as the Lakers only recently made a trade that freed up enough cap space to sign a third max-level free agent. By sending Mo Wagner, Jemerrio Jones and Isaac Bonga to the Washington Wizards (and Anthony Davis waiving his $4 million trade kicker), the Lakers are now firmly in the mix to add Leonard this summer.
The LA Clippers still make more sense in terms of fit, as they can provide Leonard the opportunity to lead his own team with a strong supporting cast, similar to what he did with the Toronto Raptors this past season. However, one of LA’s main draws is the weather, which is something that two teams now have the ability to offer.
No one can say for sure at this point what will happen with either Durant or Leonard. Anything at this point is purely speculation, but for now at least, it seems like the LA Clippers may have a better shot at landing Durant than they do Leonard, if the 2018-2019 champion chooses to leave the Raptors.