The Los Angeles Clippers’ season came to a conclusion on Wednesday night, when the Phoenix Suns eliminated them from playoff contention.
This marks the second time in as many years that the much-ballyhooed combination of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George has come up short. The last time it happened, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer attempted to trade all the players and fire all the coaches. It remains to be seen if history will repeat itself, or if Ballmer will be too preoccupied with his groping scandal to make major moves this time around.
Either way, the biggest question surrounding LA this offseason is what will happen to Leonard.
The 30-year-old has a player option worth $36.016 million for next season.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Dallas Mavericks have quietly emerged as a very serious threat to steal Leonard from the Clippers.
“The Mavericks and [Miami] Heat plan to make a hard push to acquire Leonard,” he wrote. “The Knicks will also pursue any superstar that becomes available, and a long list of other suitors would at least make an attempt if he hits the market. Who wouldn’t want a 30-year-old two-time Finals MVP still performing at an All-NBA level?
“Dallas is considered by some executives to be the most serious threat to land Kawhi because of Luka Doncic’s presence and the front office’s ability to create maximum cap space or work out a sign-and-trade. During Leonard’s years with Nike, he also developed a good relationship with Nico Harrison, the Mavs’ new general manager and a former longtime executive at the company.”
Complicating matters further are reports that Leonard is deeply angry at the Clippers’ medical staff. The last time he felt this way was with the San Antonio Spurs, and everyone remembers how that ended.
The Bucks owner’s daughter decided to bring 2021 in with a bang by stripping all her clothes off. https://t.co/UgzhEEna4o
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 7, 2021
At least one team is planning on making a strong run at prying Leonard away from LA. Whether they’ll ultimately be successful or not remains to be seen.
It’s worth remembering that the NBA player Leonard idolized most growing up had no issues jumping from team to team in the latter stages of his career. As such, it’s safe to assume he doesn’t either.
Will that lead to him going elsewhere this summer? Time will tell.