LA Clippers: How LAC can make sure Kawhi Leonard stays in free agency

LA Clippers, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
LA Clippers, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Nobody should really be surprised that Kawhi Leonard opted out of his contract with the LA Clippers.

He turned down $36 million, and while that may seem like quite a bit to turn down, I would have turned it down too if I were him. Think about it this way: Kawhi is easily the best player on the Clippers, and his teammate Paul George signed an extension this past December for an average annual value of $44 million.

Free agency doesn’t start until 3 pm Cali time this afternoon, but the Clippers can absolutely negotiate with Leonard before that. They’ll need to be on it, in hopes of striking a deal early.

Re-signing Kawhi Leonard needs to be priority No. 1 for the LA Clippers.

Kawhi Leonard is reportedly going to be looking at other teams this free agency, despite him also being likely to re-sign with the LA Clippers.

So the Clips need to come up with a great pitch to make sure Kawhi doesn’t explore his other options.

It’s looking like the Mavericks, Heat, and Knicks are the top teams competing for the superstar.

As far as the Mavericks goes, the Clippers need to make it clear to Leonard that he will have the better team around him. It’s true, as the Clippers even made it to the Western Conference Finals without him. They’re deep, and have the better coach.

With the Heat and Knicks, however, it gets tricky. Those two have money that the Clippers don’t have.

The Knicks, in fact, even have the most amount of money out of anybody in the league. The Clippers don’t have much to spend this offseason. To put it in perspective, the Clippers could go ahead and not re-sign Kawhi Leonard and still be over the cap.

The Clippers, however, have something that the Knicks don’t. That’s a championship contending roster.

The Knicks were a solid team this year, and have a bright future. The Clippers, however, were a championship contender this year, and have an incredibly exciting future. There’s no way someone would rather go to the Knicks for basketball reasons.

We can’t pay as much as New York can, but he can be rewarded in championships as early as next year, where as the Knicks will need at least a couple of years before they reach elite status.

The Heat are interesting because they would have a championship contending roster if they signed Kawhi. That being said, they aren’t home. LA is home for Kawhi.

He has three homes in Southern California, and two of them are in Los Angeles. One is just across the street from Staples Center. They need to continue to remind him of the home aspect, and how it was a driving factor of why he wanted to be here in the first place.

He wanted to play with PG, and they made it happen. PG is here to stay for four more years, so Kawhi will be able to continue to play with his star sidekick.

I don’t think it will be too difficult to keep Kawhi around, but they need to offer him as much as they can (no excuses), and need to hammer the home aspect of the situation to Leonard.

Many of the top-tier players set to be free agents of this offseason didn’t end up being free agents. They, like George, got extended already.

Kawhi may not seem like the type of extravagant superstar that cares about money more than anything, but seeing George get 44 million per year and Giannis Antetokounmpo get 45.6 will naturally lead to him looking for big money.

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I don’t care what it takes. The Clippers need to get this done, and there’s no other option.