LA Clippers superstar forward Kawhi Leonard has a player option for the 2021-2022 season.
There’s a good chance that Kawhi will opt to see what’s available in free agency. That would probably be the smart thing to do. I absolutely think he should stay with the Clips, but making himself available for other teams initially could drive up his contract value that the Clippers could potentially give him.
There’s rumors that Leonard may be interested in joining the Miami Heat. This is because after the trade deadline, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst speculated that the Heat had put themselves in position to have money for Leonard after this season. None of the players they traded for (Trevor Ariza, Victor Oladipo, and Nemanja Bjelica) are under contract for next season.
Recently, on his podcast, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said that he “doesn’t sense” the star forward signing elsewhere this offseason.
Sure, it is interesting that Leonard hasn’t signed an extension yet, while many other big names who were supposed to be free agents this offseason have. Our own Paul George signed an extension, and so did LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, and Rudy Gobert.
Still, Woj made it clear on the pod that we should be fine.
“I think Kawhi is staying with the Clippers,” said Wojnarowski. “He hasn’t said that publicly, probably won’t until the day he signs his contract. I don’t sense — I know there’s been some mention of Miami maybe being a sleeper for him — I think he’s where he wants to be geographically. I think he’s gotten along very well in the organization, with management, with ownership.”
It seems like the only way that Leonard would leave this team would be if the Clips were upset in the first round.
“I think [Clippers coach] Ty Lue has been really, really good this year for them,” said Wojnarowski. “Ty can hit you without leaving a bruise. And can coach you hard, can hold guys’ accountable, and I think that’s an environment Kawhi likes, that’s been good for this team. But things can go sideways when all of a sudden you get knocked out earlier here than you expect [in the playoffs]. We all look at their series with Dallas and we say, they should be able to win that series.”
The Clippers absolutely should win this series. The Mavericks are a tough team, but the chances of the Clips pulling that series out with a W are higher than the alternative.
If that happens, Kawhi is much closer to staying a Clipper next year. If the Clips go on to win a championship, it’ll be almost fully guaranteed that Kawhi will remain a Clipper.