Kawhi Leonard's resilience for Team USA should anger the Clippers

Playing in the offseason may not be the best look for a player as oft-injured as Kawhi.
Team USA Basketball Showcase
Team USA Basketball Showcase / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

The LA Clippers' unwavering faith in Kawhi Leonard could continue the franchise's longstanding tradition of not knowing when to get out of its own way. 

In January, the organization decided to further back their superstar by extending him through his age-35 season. His flashes and championship pedigree seemingly outweigh his myriad of lower-body injuries and his inability to stay on the court for prolonged stretches.

Even his most recent campaign, where his 68 games played matched his best mark in nearly a decade, ended prematurely after hurting his right knee. The risks are starting to dramatically outweigh the rewards of having him as the focal point of the roster.

The Clippers have to compartmentalize these concerns as they shift their focus on Paul George and James Harden's looming free agency decisions. As for Leonard, this summer, he'll be in Paris competing for the United States in the Olympics. It'll be his first time representing his country on the world's grandest stage, and it's a prime opportunity to capture a gold medal. 

As tremendous an honor as this is for him, it raises questions about Leonard's priorities and whether capturing his third title is even one of them. 

Kawhi Leonard playing in the Olympics should concern the Clippers

For weeks, Leonard's status with Team USA was in doubt. Boston Celtics guard Derrick White seemed destined to replace his former San Antonio Spurs teammate, who was still recovering from that aforementioned knee injury. The squad's coach, Steve Kerr, put the uncertainty to rest, as he recently announced Leonard would participate in training, and the two sides have been in frequent contact. 

For a player who hasn't had a healthy playoff run since the NBA bubble in 2020, playing deep into the off-season is a disaster. His long-term health outlook has never looked grimmer, and rather than having a few months to rehab, he will be putting his body on the line in an intense competition. It's admirable that he wants to be on the floor, but logic has to outweigh desire. 

The Clippers deserve Leonard's best effort and availability to capitalize on his last few years of peak performance. His tenure with the team has been largely a flop, but that narrative can dramatically shift with a trip to the Finals. He owes it to himself and the franchise to be fit, and competing in Paris seems like a looming disaster.