When he arrived at the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard was to make this franchise a stronghold of the Western Conference, a regular candidate for the title… But 4 years later the situation is very different, since he never managed to reproduce the magic of his time at the Raptors. Its leaders could well punish it for the lack of results.
4 years after his arrival in California, the passage of Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers is a failure. If he is still very good when he is on the pitch, he is not often available enough to have a real impact and carry his own in the title race. The proof, he was not even on the ground during the only conference final of his partners…
Because time is starting to run out, the leaders of the Clippers would also consider starting a new project, much less expensive and perhaps less ambitious. They just let Eric Gordon go just months after bringing him in on a trade, which should save them over $100 million in luxury tax. And another payroll reduction could take place with… Kawhi!
Kawhi Leonard released by the Clippers?!
Indeed, when the market opens, the winger will be likely to sign a contract extension of 4 seasons and around 200 million, but obviously, the leaders would be particularly reluctant to this idea. As Zach Lowe ofESPN in his podcast, Kawhi could end up with a cheap proposition. Paul George, implicated in the rumors, would be in the same situation:
The most important file in the NBA, and that nobody talks about, is the fact that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will soon be eligible for a contract extension. Kawhi will be able to sign as early as July and PG in September. From what I’ve heard in the league, if these two guys come into the negotiations asking for 4 years and the maximum, their managers will not offer them.
According to Zach Lowe, the Clippers would not be ready to offer max contracts to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, a very clear indication that they are not satisfied with the performance of the two All-Stars. So yes they are very good when they evolve together, but the collective results are not up to expectations. For once, stars could be punished.
The good news for them is that they have two more seasons to turn the tide and possibly win a title, which remains the ultimate goal for them and the team. The Klaw has a $48 million player option for the 2024/25 financial year, and as it’s gone, it would be wrong to deprive himself of it.
In the minds of many fans and observers, Kawhi Leonard remains one of the best players on the planet and still has a chance to take his team to the title if he is healthy. The leaders of the Clippers are obviously not so categorical.