NBA free agency opens today, but don’t expect Kawhi Leonard to re-sign with the Clippers so soon. After he declined his player option Sunday to become an unrestricted free agent, Leonard is expected to take some time before re-upping in Los Angeles.
Per reporting from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Leonard will be taking meetings with other teams, though most, if not all, parties involved expect him to return to the Clippers:
“Even with the injury that he sustained late in that playoff series against the Suns (sic), he’s still going to go out there and test the market. Now I will say this, that Kawhi is in a situation where it looks like he is expected to re-sign with the Clippers, but sources have informed me that he will listen to other teams. I don’t expect this to be a day one signing, I don’t expect this to be hashed out day one... but I do anticipate at some point Kawhi re-signing with the Clippers for maybe a one-and-one type scenario, but he is open and he will listen to other teams.”
The Mavericks and Knicks are two teams that are expected to be interested in Leonard. The Heat could be too, though their sign-and-trade pursuit of Kyle Lowry appears to have vaporized their available cap space. If Leonard plans to sign a two-year deal with a player option, as Haynes reported, then he’ll be a free agent again at this time next year, and these meetings could be a head start on that process.
Or maybe Leonard, who is one of the most inscrutable stars of his era, will approach this free agency completely differently than his last one. In 2019, Leonard needed some time to secure the presence of a second star in Los Angeles. Paul George is already a Clipper; sooner than later, Leonard should be a Clipper again, too.
More news for Monday:
- Keon Johnson has yet to join the Clippers, but he and Paul George have already bonded over fishing.
- All three Clippers draft picks can relate over their difficult paths to get to the NBA.
- The 2021 NBA Draft was another feather in the cap of Leonard Hamilton, who has helped numerous Florida State players prepare for pro careers, including Terance Mann.
- Here’s Ricky O’Donnell’s first look at the 2022 NBA Draft.
- Katie Heindl has a really interesting look at the NBA’s Crossover into Business program with Harvard.
- NBA newsbreakers are doing their best to avoid implying tampering this year.