This morning, Adrian Wojnarowski was on the ESPN show “Get Up”, and talked extensively on the playoffs, as well as the impact of the playoffs on free agency.
Notably, he discussed the Clippers’ free agency hopes, which he maintains are still very strong. Interestingly, he connected the Clippers with a guy who hasn’t been linked to them much — Klay Thompson. Apparently, if the Warriors don’t offer Klay the full 5 year, $190 million max, he will leave, or give significant consideration to it at least. Klay is a super “West Coast” guy, and it’s hard to imagine him leaving the Golden State. He’s previously been linked to the Lakers, as his father Mychal played for the Lake show, but Woj said that the Clippers are the team to watch for, not the Lakers.
Woj then brought up Raptors’ superstar forward Kawhi Leonard. He said that Kawhi will probably take meetings with several teams (Nets, Knicks, and Sixers), but that it’s basically a two-team race between the Raptors and Clippers. This confirms what we’ve heard all year, but it’s good to know that the Clippers are still positioned well for the Klaw.
Kawhi has re-proven himself in the playoffs as one of the best players in the NBA after a “down” regular season (by his standards). He’s looked unstoppable against a very good Sixers defense, and his defense, while not quite as freakish as it was a few seasons ago, remains very good. Adding him to this Clippers team would be a perfect fit in terms of talent, ability, and personality, and he would instantly make them true playoff contenders.
Klay is different. While he’s one of the best shooters in NBA history, and a solid (if overrated) defender in his own right, he can’t create his own looks and isn’t much of a playmaker. While his game should age well, he’s already 29, and signing him to a five year max could look very bad in a few years. Even initially, he probably isn’t really worth that much. He’s a fringe All Star player, really, and his advanced impact stats constantly say he’s not even at that level. If the Clippers got Kawhi too he’d be a great fit, but he’s just not good enough to be a sole “star”.
The best element of the Klay news is just how desirable the Clippers are. Klay has no connection to the Clippers, and hasn’t really been rumored to them all year. His getting linked to them now could well be due to their impressive playoff series against the Warriors, and is another sign of their improved profile league-wide.