The Los Angeles Clippers lost in 6 games to the Phoenix Suns thanks to a previous unfortunate injury to Kawhi Leonard in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Without Leonard, the Clippers were too short-handed against the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. But despite the loss, the Clippers might have gained some more fans while silencing a host of detractors. The entire team played with incredible heart and passion, starting from their leader Paul George.
George redeemed himself this season by averaging 26.9 PPG, 9.6 RPG, and 5.4 APG in the postseason. He proved to the NBA world that he is good enough to carry the Clippers to within 2 games of the NBA Finals. Role players such as Reggie Jackson and rookie Terrence Mann also played extremely well, but the resurgence of George was great to see. It might be time to officially end the slander of a two-way superstar who is one of the best players in the league.
Looking ahead to next season, the Clippers have some major decisions coming their way that could shape their franchise forever. Things might have been different in the Western Conference Finals had Kawhi Leonard been healthy, but seeing the Clippers perform the way they did could prove to be a decisive factor on what happens in free agency. The Clippers have had some all-time great stars such as Chris Paul and Bob McAdoo, but this upcoming offseason is the most important period in Clippers franchise history with regards to their two biggest stars.
Paul George Redeemed Himself, Does He Have The Backing Of The Clippers?
Paul George reminded everyone how great he can be on both ends of the floor. This was the same man who went toe-to-toe with the great LeBron James when the Pacers and Heat met multiple times in the postseason. George was at his best this postseason, averaging 26.9 PPG while playing 40.8 MPG. George did everything in his power to keep the Clippers afloat, and he nearly did the impossible by leading Los Angeles to the NBA Finals without his partner Kawhi Leonard.
George played so well that critics have been officially silenced, and are putting respect on the 7-time All-Star’s name once again. But has George won over the Clippers organization? Does the front office truly believe that George can be that second (or possibly first) superstar to bring championship glory to a starved organization? George has 3 years left on his contract plus a player option before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2025. The Clippers are very aware that George’s value is sky-high right now after a horrific season last year, and they need to make a choice on whether to cash in on him right now for assets or believe in him for the long-term.
Will Kawhi Leonard Re-Sign With The Los Angeles Clippers?
By far the most important offseason in the history of the Los Angeles Clippers is ruled by 2-time NBA champion Kawhi Leonard. The franchise is already facing a difficult situation with the pending plan on Paul George, but Leonard’s free agency this offseason is a make-or-break situation for the Clippers. If Leonard decides to leave the Clippers, the team is effectively done for. It will take countless years before they can acquire a superstar of his level again, especially with other big market teams ruling free agency right now. A star player choosing between the Clippers and Lakers was never a difficult selection until Leonard changed that last year by brushing aside the Purple and Gold.
Nobody knows what goes on in Leonard’s head, which makes this offseason even more nerve-wracking for the Clippers. Hardly anybody predicted Kawhi would choose the Clippers last year and he shocked the world by becoming the face of a title-starved franchise. In similar Kawhi fashion, the Claw could surprise people once again at the expense of the Clippers. Teams such as the Mavericks and Heat are going all-in to sign Leonard in free agency, which means stiff competition lies in the wake for a desperate Clippers franchise. Leonard sitting in the stands with his family rather than being on the bench with his teammates in the Western Conference Finals is hardly a good sign.
On a positive note, Leonard could be convinced that the Clippers are championship material by their performances this postseason. Without him on the floor, Los Angeles beat the No. 1 seeded Utah Jazz in 6 games. The Clippers then fought the heavily talented Phoenix Suns until 6 games, with Paul George proving he is a superstar player. If Leonard sees potential in this team for next season, he could re-sign and give the Clippers one of the best duos in the league. Unfortunately for the Clippers, Kawhi’s decision will dictate the franchise’s history forever because the entire team goes as far as Leonard takes them.