NBA

Kawhi Leonard widely expected to re-sign with Clippers in free agency, per report

It was less than two years ago when Kawhi Leonard walked away from the defending champion Toronto Raptors to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, but, believe it or not, he’s already eligible for free agency again after the current campaign. Leonard’s contract with the Clippers is a three-year deal that features a player option worth $36 million for the final season. Thus, Leonard could opt out of the final year of the deal in favor of unrestricted free agency. 

Given that he’ll assuredly secure a new longer and more lucrative deal in free agency, it’s very likely Leonard, 29, will indeed opt out of that final year of his current deal. However, other organizations hoping to land Leonard shouldn’t get too excited as the two-time Finals MVP is widely expected to re-sign with the Clippers, according to Sam Amick and John Hollinger of The Athletic

A big part of the reason why Leonard signed with the Clippers in the first place was because he wanted to be home in Los Angeles, and he wasn’t interested in partnering with LeBron James on the Lakers. Those factors still hold true, which makes it unlikely that he would want to leave L.A. 

From Amick and Hollinger: 

Yet barring a dramatic turn of events in these coming months, it’s looking like this Leonard free agency will be decidedly less dramatic. While this league has certainly taught us to expect the unexpected, the truth is that Leonard is still widely, well, expected to re-sign with the Clippers. As it stands, that’s the word from Clippers sources and rival executives alike. Now, does that mean there’s no way he gets a wandering eye if the Clippers implode (again) in the playoffs? Of course not.

But Leonard’s desire to play in his home region was a widely-known factor of his free agency decision the last time around, as was his disinterest in partnering with LeBron James and the Lakers (who, in the end, were extremely skeptical that the interest he showed in them was genuine). What’s more, the Clippers minimized their level of offseason uncertainty by securing George in December rather than having him also enter free agency.

Things can change quickly in the NBA, and if the Clippers flame out in the postseason again like they did last year, perhaps Leonard will consider joining a fourth franchise. But, he doesn’t really come off as a ring-chaser, or the type of player interested in following others in order to form a superteam. 

Plus, the Clippers are deep, dangerous and they appear poised to make a real run at a championship this season. They already have Paul George locked up through 2024, and if Leonard also re-ups the Clippers will continue to be a contender for the foreseeable future. When Leonard signed with them in 2019, it marked the first time in his career that he got to pick where he wanted to play, and he picked L.A. for a reason. The fact that he’s expected to stay there isn’t surprising. 



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