The Los Angeles Clippers rebounded well from their disappointing exit in the playoffs last season. With a Western Conference Finals appearance, this team knows that it has the talent to make a run towards the NBA Finals, especially since Kawhi Leonard didn’t play a single game in the six-game series. With the Clippers bounced, all eyes will be on the decision that Leonard has to make in the next coming month.
Leonard has until August 1st to exercise his player’s option. We have learned in the NBA that nothing is guaranteed, so we are not for sure if Leonard will exercise it or not. It doesn’t help that Leonard lives such a quiet lifestyle that there have been no clues linked about this big decision.
For now, all we can do is speculate. For next year, these five spots would be the best destinations for the superstar.
5. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors would need to complete this by trade because of their salary cap issues. The ideal trade would be Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, the No. 7 and No. 14 picks in the 2021 draft. While Wiggins is no Kawhi Leonard, he did improve his defense a ton last year and can spot close to 20-25 points each night.
With questions hanging around Serge Ibaka’s health, Wiseman could pair with Ivica Zubac to give the team depth at center. As for the Warriors, the combination of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Leonard would have a championship feels like the old days when Kevin Durant was a part of the team.
4. New York Knicks
The Knicks have cap space to sign Leonard. Correction, the Knicks will have the most salary-cap space among any team in the league. With Tom Thibodeau changing the culture, a solid No. 2 option in Julius Randle, and a defensive-minded tough team, this could lure Leonard to the Big Apple to make New York basketball relevant again.
Leonard would thrive under Thibodeau’s system. There would be questions about his durability given how Thibodeau plays his veterans in large minutes, but the Knicks were one of the best defensive teams in the league last year. You have to look at what the Suns did this season and wonder if the Knicks could replicate the system if Leonard arrived in New York.
3. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks are trying to trade everyone but Luka Doncic at this point, so pairing one big superstar with another would be huge for the team. The Mavericks are coming off back-to-back first-round exits to the Clippers. It’s time to blow up the tandem of Kristaps Porzingis and Doncic.
The Clippers could look to complete a sign-and-trade for Porzingis and give George and Porzingis a three-year run together. While that may not sound ideal, if Leonard declines his option, that means he does not want to run it back next year. Why not try and get a superstar in return? With a welcomed addition of a Nike executive as your leader of basketball operations, this could be a successful joint union.
2. Miami Heat
If Leonard does not exercise his option, the Miami Heat will be a frontrunner for his services. The Heat will have cap space to absorb a contract like the one of Leonards. Also, the team could cater to his contract demands, which includes giving him a short-term deal. Financially, it could align with Butler, who has two years left on his deal.
For two years, Leonard could try and run through the Eastern Conference with Butler and Bam Adebayo. This superteam could go toe-to-toe with the likes of either the Nets or the Bucks. With a champion pedigree in Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra, this winning culture would only get better.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
The best spot for Leonard is the Clippers. While Leonard declining his option would be great drama for the league, it would be pointless in the long run. Leonard is trying to define himself as one of the all-time greats. He has already won championships with the Spurs and Raptors. Winning a championship with a third team would cement his legacy into the conversation with the likes of LeBron James.
Plus, this would be no ordinary championship title. The Clippers have never made the NBA Finals and it would give his hometown of Los Angeles their first title on the other side of Laker Nation. After years of living in the Lakers’ shadow, this would give the Clippers their first taste of the spotlight. Leonard should try and run it back after the team made the Conference Finals and played as well as they did without him in the lineup.