Even if the LA Clippers take this series and lose the next one, expect Kawhi Leonard to at least not initially pick up his option.
It’s the smart thing for Kawhi Leonard to do, regardless of if he wants to stay with or leave the LA Clippers.
While nobody is assuming Kawhi will certainly leave Los Angeles, it’s worth getting prepared for the noise that will be surrounding the topic regardless of if the Clippers pull this series out or not. There are three teams in particular that will most likely compete with the Clippers for Kawhi should Leonard entertain leaving.
No. 3 team competing for Kawhi Leonard: New York Knicks
The Knicks looked much improved this year, going from a .318 winning percentage to a .569 winning percentage and a fourth seed finish to go to the NBA Postseason for the first time in eight years. They lost in the first round, and looked like they desperately needed a superstar in the mix.
They were relying on 2021 All-Star Julius Randle to be the guy, and he couldn’t get it done. He was inefficient, shooting just .298 from the field, and just .333 from three. He shot 45.6% from the field during the season and 41.1% from three during the regular season.
He put up 18 points per game in the series, as opposed to his 24.1 points per game in the regular season. He’s a good player, but the stage was a bit too big for him. The Knicks may be interested in adding an elite player like Leonard to carry the type of load they tried to force on Randle.
New York has $72.8 million that they can spend this offseason. That’s more than any other team, and it’s not close.