The Kawhi Leonard Era has not gone as planned for the Los Angeles Clippers.
When Leonard landed in L.A. with Paul George in 2019, everyone had visions of multiple championships. Some of the players who were then on the roster were certain that a title was inevitable.
Unfortunately, the Clippers were never quite able to live up to the hype. Leonard has played in 52 games over each of the past two seasons and his squad has yet to even reach the Western Conference Finals.
Leonard’s undeniable lack of success in L.A. has led to something of a standoff between him and the front office over his next deal, per Brian Windhorst.
As things presently stand, Leonard is under contract for 2023-24. After that – he has a player option. If the Clippers want to move on from him, he will never have more trade value to them than he does right now.
In recent weeks there has been a lot of speculation about whether the front office would consider trading Leonard and what a potential deal could look like.
This week one particular blockbuster trade proposal involving Leonard and the Bulls divided NBA fans.
In the proposed agreement, Chicago would get Leonard while the Clippers would receive Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, a 2027 first round pick, a 2029 first round pick and whatever other minor capital was necessary to close the deal.
Fans didn’t love it, but primarily because they deemed Leonard not worthy of that sort of trade package.
— greg ☀️ (@gneppl16) August 16, 2023
— Brian Fitts😀 (@beeferoni790) August 17, 2023
He’s NEVER healthy… no 👎
— Monarch☘️Dafey (@MonarchDafey) August 17, 2023
Why on gods green earth would you bring in a habitually injured player?
— The Italian Chicago Bull (@sweetness3484) August 16, 2023
The fact that an entire fan base is so adamantly against acquiring Leonard given what he did for the Toronto Raptors in 2018 is a pretty telling indicator of how bad the last five years have been for him.
Obviously Leonard is still very talented. And clearly he can be very impactful when he is on the court, as he proved during Game 1 of this year’s first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns.
But he is also habitually hurt. Giving up a player of LaVine’s caliber for him isn’t as easy to swallow as it probably should be.
It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the first time in recent weeks that LaVine has been linked to the Clippers.
What a week for the Jacksonville Jaguars. https://t.co/aeXVxUnAhm
— Game 7 (@game7__) August 17, 2023
Maybe where there is smoke, there is fire.
Will the Clippers trade Leonard to the Bulls at some point in the foreseeable future? It’s hard to see that happening, but in a league where Bradley Beal is traded for peanuts and Kevin Durant somehow gets moved despite being in Year 1 of a contract, anything is possible.