The Los Angeles Clippers had one thing in mind this season: extending Paul George and making a few trades to win an NBA championship. The Los Angeles Clippers tied up the series against the Dallas Mavericks by winning 106-81. The Clippers may have to win the championship or their face of the franchise, Kawhi Leonard, could be on the move this offseason.
LEONARD MAY STAY WITH THE CLIPPERS BUT LEAVING IS A POSSIBILITY
Leonard has a player option worth $36 million for next season. He will most likely opt out for a longer contract. However, the Clippers will have a few competitors which may interest Leonard and his camp.
Leonard is the type of player any franchise would want even with the load management involved. Kawhi has won against the Big 3 of Miami that featured now cross-town rival LeBron James, star Dwyane Wade, and star Chris Bosh. Leonard also brought the Toronto Raptors its first championship in the franchise’s history as the Raptors took the risk even though he was on the last year of his contract.
Leonard has many accolades and can bring any franchise to contention as he can get anyone to play with him. Here are some teams he could join as he could leave the Clippers this season.
THE DESTINATIONS THAT ARE UNLIKELY
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Kawhi Leonard is known to be a quiet player as he does not like the attention of the big market spotlight. The Lakers have a lot more attention and were one of the finalists in the Leonard sweepstakes. “The Claw” is a competitor and seems to not like the easier route of winning rings, and the Lakers would have to move players like Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and forget about trying to retain Dennis Schroder in the offseason.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
The Warriors have pulled something miraculous in the past by landing Kevin Durant in the past. However, like the Lakers, the organization’s salary cap situation will be difficult. This means that they will most likely have to move many assets, including Draymond Green, who can be labeled as the backbone of the original Warriors’ Big 3 during their numerous title runs.
NEW YORK KNICKS
It’s good to see playoff basketball in the Mecca as the Knicks were linked to Leonard in 2019. The Knicks are a much more respectable team and have a lot of salary cap and the second most draft picks for the next couple of years moving forward. The Knicks will have to use their picks to get an established star to join Kawhi in New York, and as of right now I don’t see Leonard passing up on a title contender for the Big Apple unless he knows for sure that the Knicks can pair him up with a star.
THE LIKELY DESTINATIONS
The defending Eastern Conference Champions had rough series against the Milwaukee Bucks as their dreams of going back to the Finals were cut short. The Heat also were involved in history as the Bucks had the highest point differential of +20.5 in NBA history in regards to beating the Conference champs in the first round.
However, none of the players the organization traded for at this year’s trade deadline: Victor Oladipo, Trevor Ariza, and Nemanja Bjelica are signed for next year. This would be a great team for Leonard moving forward as the team has a solid core built around Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
At the end of free agency, Leonard can return to the Clippers as he has a good relationship with Head Coach Ty Lue and the rest of the organization. The Clippers have dedicated the next few seasons to be a title contender by trading for and extending star Paul George.
With Anthony Davis dealing with an injury and the Nuggets playing without Jamal Murray, the Clippers may be in a prime position to make it to the Finals if they can beat the Dallas Mavericks. It will be interesting to see where Kawhi Leonard lands this coming offseason if he decides to opt out.