Kawhi Leonard has looked fallible for the first time in his career. Leonard has impressed everyone on more occasions than he has disappointed, so the Clippers flaming out this year was something no one expected. However, the Clippers crashed out of the Playoffs and Doc Rivers lost his job over it.
While Doc is already settling in Philadelphia, questions loom large for the Clippers. Most of the current roster was assembled because they wanted to play for a coach like Rivers. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George’s main attraction point for the Clippers was the fact they had Doc Rivers at the helm.
With a busted season, fired coach, and locker room tension, the Clippers look weak and wounded. Will this state affect how the stars of the team feel? Kawhi Leonard can be a free agent after next season, so is he looking at this Clippers team and possibly contemplating an exit? A minimum two-year window was created, and a year is already over. However, it is worse, as LA will now need to rework around a coach. Even though some say that Kawhi was consulted, will the ‘Board Man’ stay on this team long-term after losing Rivers?
First, it is unlikely Kawhi leaves. One of his main reasons for coming to LA was to be near his family. Unless he is going to the Lakers, there is no other team that will help him fulfill that need. Therefore, the only teams that had a shot at Kawhi in free agency were the Clippers and Lakers.
The Clippers may be fragmented, but Kawhi isn’t necessarily a ‘ring-chaser’. He has the patience to build the Clippers back up, alongside Paul George. They are two top-tier players and can get an assortment of pieces around them to chase rings. Doc may not have been the most stylistically sound fit, and the Clippers get to change that.
However, the larger ramifications of firing a man like Doc Rivers are yet to be seen. The Clippers are yet to decide on their next head coach, and there may be a lot of staff turnover as a result. While this could be a good thing, it could also be catastrophic. Let’s not forget that Doc Rivers was at a point the biggest voice in the Clippers organization. His loss will be felt on a structural level in the team.
While Kawhi could have his pick of teams in 2021, there is no other team that he can call home. Unless the LA Lakers were to come back and figure out how to accommodate him again, the probability of Kawhi leaving the Clippers is slim. Nor should he, as winning a championship after this season’s disappointment will make Kawhi’s legacy that much brighter.
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