Predicting where Kawhi Leonard lands in impending free agency
Kawhi Leonard is this summer’s free agency big fish
Where did Los Angeles Clippers superstar forward Kawhi Leonard end up in free agency this summer? There is no doubt that the NBA Finals’ two-time MVP is this agency’s biggest free off-season catch, granting he would step down in the final year of the $ 103 million contract he he signed with the Clippers in 2019.
Leonard, who will be 30 in a few months, is in his second year with the Clippers. One of the league’s elite superstars at the moment, Kawhi has an impressive stat line of 26.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.4 blocks per game. , including an overall clip of 51% of the career best in the field, and a stellar clip at 39% of the three-point line.
So if Leonard decides to give up his current contract this offseason, which many people expect him to do, he will be the most coveted capture in the unrestricted free agency market. According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick and John Hollinger, they believe the Clippers still have the upper hand in bringing the two-way superstar back, especially since Los Angeles is Leonard’s hometown.
You remember the good old days, when the Clippers’ front office executives spent much of their season traveling the country to watch Toronto Raptors games – allegedly – as part of their free agency Kawhi plan. Leonard? When the time finally came for Leonard to make up his mind, we had theft follow-ups and secret meetings and even accusations of inappropriate requests from the infamous Uncle Dennis. Truth be told, it was the kind of fascinating stuff that makes the NBA world go round.
Still, barring a dramatic turn of events in the coming months, it looks like this Leonard free agency will be decidedly less dramatic. While this league has certainly taught us to expect the unexpected, the truth is Leonard is still largely, well, expected to re-sign with the Clippers. As it stands, that’s the word of the Clippers sources and rival executives.
Leonard was 15e 2011 NBA Draft Selection. It was the Indiana Pacers who selected him in this draft, but Kawhi has never played a single game for this team. The Pacers immediately traded his rights, along with those of Davis Bertans and Erazem Lorbek, to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for point guard George Hill.
The move turned out to be a very wise move for Spurs, as Leonard not only turned out to be a great defensive player, but he also significantly improved his attacking skills after only a few years in the league. Leonard was named to the 2012 NBA Rookie First Team, placing fourth in the race for the Rookie of the Year award.
Leonard would then make two consecutive trips to the NBA Finals with the Spurs in 2013 and 2014, both against the famous Miami Heat trio of superstars of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Heat would win the first game in seven games, but Kawhi and Spurs would then wipe out their opposition the following year. The little 6-foot-7 forward took home the MVP award of the final after putting in a very efficient performance on both sides of the pitch.
After this impressive performance in the 2014 NBA Finals, Leonard will spend four more years in San Antonio, during which he landed two coveted caps at the All-Star Game festivities. Fallout with the Spurs’ organization during the 2017-18 season led the team to ship Kawhi to the Toronto Raptors in the summer of 2018. Kawhi then hoisted the Raptors to their first franchise championship in 2019.
Can the Clippers finally break through this season?
When the Clippers’ front office pulled off a heist by bringing in Leonard and Paul George in the summer of 2019, the approach for them to move forward was to go all-in for a championship. That didn’t happen last year when they took a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals to lose to Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.
But it’s also true that even though his name isn’t the one mentioned time and time again in this season’s MVP race, Kawhi still shows outstanding numbers across the board. His recent streak of incredible performances placed him in third place on HoopsHype’s MVP ranking. According to HoopsHype’s Frank Urbina, the Clippers’ recent wins have also contributed to Kawhi’s case for the plum MVP this season.
The reasons Kawhi Leonard has made such a leap this week in our rankings (he had never been higher than fifth in this series before this edition) are twofold: First, the Los Angeles Clippers are playing at a very high level, winning five victories. games in a row and third in the league for the net ranking of the year (+6.8).
Second, Leonard himself has been brilliant individually in recent times, averaging 25.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.7 steals on 53.1 / 43 sharpshoots, 2 / 90.9 in their previous 10 games before moving on to Sunday’s Clippers game to rest. Although Leonard is a free agent this offseason, the latest reports indicate people around the league “ largely expect ” the star wing to re-sign with the Clippers without much drama, though another ugly playoff loss is to be assumed in a few months. could change that some.
If the Clippers manage to embark on a deeper playoff series this season, there is no doubt that it could help them build a stronger case to throw at Kawhi to stay with the team. Aside from Kawhi, there’s also the fact that Paul George needs to bring in a better playoff performance than he showed last year.
In the 43 games he has played for the Clippers this season, George is posting exceptional numbers of 23.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.5 blocks per fight. He’s also shooting an overall clip of 47% of career best in the field, including a whopping 43% clip from beyond the arc, which is another career high for the superstar striker. 30 years old.
George’s enormous state of mind for moving forward showed best when he maintained his composure during the Clippers’ relentless victory over the Phoenix Suns. According to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, George said he was only focused on winning the game for his side, and he paid no attention to all the trash talk going on between the Clippers and Suns.
“We focused on ourselves. I don’t know what it is. We focused on ourselves. I don’t care what they do there. I don’t care who they are or what they do. I am locked up. They can chirp, I’ll let them have it tonight. I just stayed in my zone, I stayed in my place, I don’t know. … I don’t care what they do. We’re focused on us here. We want to improve. Tonight has been a fun game, and we enjoy the challenge.
For some reason there are a lot of tweets and people just living in the past. “
Aside from Leonard and George, there’s also the fact that the Clippers have been experimenting with their supporting cast this season. During trade deadline day, the Clippers transferred longtime combo guard Lou Williams to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for the veteran services of two-time goaltender Rajon Rondo.
Rondo comes off an incredible performance in last year’s playoffs when he played a key role in the Lakers’ championship success in the Orlando bubble. With his excellent feel on the pitch and his decorated resume, there is no doubt that Rondo brings winning DNA and intangibles that would truly help a championship chasing team achieve their lofty goals.
In the seven games he has played for the Clippers, Rondo records in 18.6 minutes on the bench. The 35-year-old playmaker is putting up averages of 7.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 0.9 steals per game for the Clippers. In addition to these overall numbers, Rondo also records an excellent overall clip of 47% from the pitch, including a stellar 43% clip beyond the arc, a great indicator of how much he has improved in terms of length. scope. filming.
In a separate column written by Youngmisuk for ESPN, George praised his new teammate. George loves that Rondo brings the kind of leadership and stability the Clippers need, especially during the most important playoff games. It’s no secret that Rondo’s brilliant feel for the game has always been something he provided to all of the teams he’s played for before.
In the small sample of games he hooked up for the Clippers, Rondo shows off all of these exceptional strengths of his skill set.
“I think we can reserve more energy. I relate it to the relationship I have with Russ. Russ has created a lot of closing situations for me. And so it will be the same with Rondo. Rondo can happen to the in the middle of painting it, he can play games, and often he will create closing situations for us.
Rondo is a leader, you know the leader, he is a leader. We will listen to it. I consider him a leader, a leader of this group. He will have a lot of weight. He’s got a lot of weight in the locker room. As he becomes more familiar with our system, putting the games under his feet, he will hold us accountable. This is what you need in the locker room, someone who is going to say the right thing and get us going. “
After their recent disappointing three-point loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Rondo and the Clippers will return home to stage a game against Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves. After this match, they will visit Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers, then return to Los Angeles to welcome Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies.