While Kawhi Leonard notably went to the Los Angeles Clippers due to his connections to southern California, he could decide to leave this summer. Kawhi Leonard could become a free agent if he declines his player option, which means that he could potentially depart the Los Angeles Clippers.
A recent report by NBA Insider Marc Stein suggests that Kawhi Leonard will decline his free agency option, to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers or potentially go elsewhere. Stein suggested that the Dallas Mavericks would target Kawhi Leonard, even if he had to miss the whole season with his ACL injury.
The Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, like Paul, has to decide whether to exercise a pricey player option ($36 million) or head to free agency in August. Unlike Paul, Leonard must do so while facing long-term injury uncertainty after it was announced this week that he underwent surgery on a partially torn ACL in his right knee and is out indefinitely.
The most likely scenario, league sources say, remains Leonard opting out to re-sign with the Clippers — or, in Steve Ballmer’s worst nightmare, to shock the league by signing elsewhere. Leonard’s well-known affinity for Southern California has led various rival front offices to presume that he would have no interest in switching teams for the third time, but the notion that Leonard is unattainable seems to be waning a bit as the Aug. 2 start of free agency nears.
Dallas, just to name one expected suitor, will not be dissuaded from pursuing Leonard even if he’s forced to miss all of next season, league sources say. Leonard’s situation is frequently likened to Kevin Durant’s free agency in 2019 after Durant had sustained a torn Achilles tendon in the Finals. Brooklyn furnished Durant with a four-year, $164 million deal as part of a sign-and-trade with Golden State, with the Nets knowing they would have to play a whole season without him. Even at 30 and with a worrisome injury history, Leonard appears capable of generating similar interest.
There is no doubt that Kawhi Leonard is worth the risk, even with an ACL injury. He is capable of being the No. 1 option on a championship-caliber team, and he would be a great fit next to almost any star, including Luka Doncic. While Kawhi Leonard may not end up leaving the Los Angeles Clippers, teams will certainly be interested in him if he does end up hitting free agency.