Kawhi Leonard sent a simple message to Los Angeles Clippers teammate Paul George this past week.
That message? I’m not ready to commit to this organization long-term.
“Just for my situation right now, I’m just focused on this season,” Leonard said on Monday.
“Not saying I’m going anywhere else or staying here, but I’m just focused on the season. Obviously, if I’m healthy, the best decision is to decline player option, but that doesn’t mean I’m leaving or staying. I’m focused on the season, like I said. We’ll talk about that when the time is right.”
George, meanwhile, just signed a five-year, $226 million deal with the Clippers.
“I spoke to Paul, he felt comfortable here,” Leonard said.
“He loves the city, he’s obviously from here, so I think from his standpoint, he did a great job of coming to me and telling em how he feels before signing the contract.”
George indicated that he hoped his committal to the organization would serve as some sort of reassurance for Leonard.
“The responsibility is to make him feel like the way I felt when I came into my extension,” he said.
“I knew where I wanted to be. I knew who I wanted to play with. That’s my responsibility to go into the season. Again, it’s Kawhi’s decision. I’m a grown man. If he decides to go elsewhere, that’s a decision that I’ll be happy for him,” George continued.
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“But my hope, my responsibility, and what I would love is to play with him for the rest of my contract or the rest of his contract. I guess I have to work on that when it comes to his time.”
George admits that he feels ‘hopeful’ about Leonard’s future with the Clippers.
“I’m hopeful,” he said.
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“I won’t put words in another person’s mouth, but I’m hopeful. He’s one of the guys that I talked to and kind of wanted to inform, ‘Hey, this is a decision I wanted to make, I want to be here long-term.’
“It’s not putting a gun to Kawhi and telling him, he’s gotta do this or do that. Hopefully it’s a mutual bond and we both enjoy playing with one another. Everybody’s got their own decisions to make and hopefully me showing my commitment, being here and wanting to play with him long term sticks out.”
This is going to be a big year for the Clippers. Either they will bounce back strong and right a lot of the wrongs that plagued them last season, or the wheels will completely fall off the car and Leonard will bolt in the offseason for greener pastures.