NBA Rumors: Could Kawhi Leonard be had on the open market this offseason?
Two years through his experiment with the LA Clippers, there will be some that will label Kawhi Leonard’s move to West as a disappointment. However, there’s a case to be made that if it wasn’t for a freak injury, the Clippers win the championship this season.
Despite those questions, I don’t think anyone envisioned that Kawhi would second-guess his move to LA. Even despite the fact that he has the ability to opt-out of the final year and test free agency.
However, according to a recent report from Marc Stein, that’s no longer the overwhelming thought around the league. Per Stein, there’s a growing sense that Kawhi re-signing with LA isn’t as sure as many believed it to be just a few weeks ago.
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Would Kawhi Leonard really leave the LA Clippers?
Even though the Clippers have fallen short of the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons with Kawhi and Paul George, LA still has to feel good about their chances heading into next season and will be on the shortlist of favorites once the season begins (assuming Kawhi remains a part of this team).
But if Kawhi is willing to leave LA, then that is no longer the case for the Clippers. Without Kawhi, the Clippers go from being a championship contender to just a good team. LA did some impressive things without Kawhi, but ultimately his absence was felt when they needed it most against the Phoenix Suns.
Kawhi, when healthy, is still one of the most dominant two-way players in the league. Should he hit the free-agent market, even while rehabbing a partially torn ACL, it would be surprising if not every team with significant cap space isn’t interested.
Still, I find it hard to believe that Kawhi made it all about returning “home” a couple of seasons ago to simply leave after such a short stint with the Clippers. LA is still absolutely the favorite to retain Kawhi, but this report does add some intrigue heading into the offseason.
If nothing else, it will give the Clippers something else to think about as they try to improve this roster around Kawhi and George.