Will Kawhi Leonard Leave the LA Clippers After Rejecting His Player Option?

Published 08/01/2021, 10:36 PM EDT
Jun 6, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Luke Kennard (5) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) react against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half in game seven of the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Kawhi Leonard has only recently entered his 30s and with that, inclusion in the category of league’s best veterans. This is perhaps the right time for him to lock himself in a long-term deal that can guarantee big money. His recent decision to decline his player option with the Clippers might have a lot to do with ensuring just that.

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After a couple of months full of rumors, The Claw has finally made his stance clear and that is to explore free agency. The LA Clippers, at this juncture, simply can not afford to lose someone who has mixed well with the franchise’s interests. So what happens next?

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Kawhi Leonard and his plethora of options

The Claw declining his $36 million player option makes all the sense given the deals on the table. Much before sticking his head out of LA, Kawhi Leonard can expect some huge offerings to stay in his home city.

For one, the 5x All-Star can sign a 2-year $80.6 million deal with a PO in 2022-23. He can then drop the PO in a similar fashion and get a whopping $235 million contract. If not that, a $176.2 million 4-year deal is already on the cards, getting him an average of $39 million per year until he turns 34. 

However, most likely, the 2x NBA Champion will go the 1+1 way because he might not want to endanger his four years in a team that might/might not win a title. So to keep his options open, one such smaller yet financially beneficial deal makes more sense.

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Will the Clippers try hard to keep him home?

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Only recently, the LA Clippers’ Head of Basketball Operations, Lawrence Frank, had signaled that they’re there in the thick & thin of Kawhi. This meant that even if Kawhi Leonard’s recovery from the fresh surgery keeps him out for the entirety of 2021, the Clippers won’t mind that uncertainty. 

The star 2-way player averaged his career’s second-highest playoff numbers in 2021 before getting injured. He was recording 30.4 points at a career-best 57.3% FG until an unfortunate injury pushed him to the bench. 

Steve Ballmer knows Kawhi is still their best potential and just one decent year can get them their first championship. So the Clippers would want to lure Kawhi for a bigger commitment. Perhaps they can do this by signing a better supporting cast around him to influence his free agency decision. 

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What’s your take, will Kawhi leave LA or stay? If he is to stay, what kind of a deal can take shape? Help us know in the comments section below.

Watch this story – Kawhi Leonard and Others with Their Viscious Dunks from the Last Season

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Sourabh Singh

1589 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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