Kawhi Leonard is in “no rush” to make give the Clippers, Lakers and Raptors an answer on his free agency decision. ESPN also reported that Leonard is expected to meet with both the Clippers and Lakers this week. The Clippers have been mostly quiet since free agency began, but ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that teams’ silence about Leonard could be part of a “trust exercise.”
Leonard prefers to keep a low profile and may have requested that perspective teams do the same. The Clippers did announce the re-signing of Patrick Beverley, a move that will not prevent L.A. from landing Leonard as well. ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported that the Clippers have $41 million in cap space as well as the $4.8 exception, which is more than enough to sign Leonard.
This is the most of any NBA team, but the challenge is the free agent market has dried up less than 24 hours into the process. The Ringer’s Bill Simmons noted he heard that Leonard planned to “stream this out” when it comes to making his free agency decision.
The Clippers Hoped that Kawhi Leonard & Kevin Durant Would Team Up
The Clippers were one of the few teams that could sign two max players. There was talk that Leonard could team up with Kevin Durant and the Clippers were one of the teams mentioned as a potential landing spot.
“The Clippers were confident when they heard that Kawhi and Durant were talking because that led to them, but now since that wont happen. The @lakers and @raptors are back in play!” Sirius XM’s Eddie Johnson tweeted.
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton described the Clippers as the “ideal landing spot” for Durant and Leonard. Durant scrapped this plan by wanting to play with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn.
The Clippers look like an ideal landing spot for Durant and Leonard because of their ability to support them with strong complementary talent. Although the Clippers don’t have the cap space to sign both players entering free agency, they could get there by trading forward Danilo Gallinari, a reasonable value making $22.6 million in the final season of his contract.
Kawhi Wants to Be Paired With a “Top-Flight Free Agent” if He Leaves the Raptors
The New York Times Marc Stein reported that Leonard wants to be paired with a “top-flight free agent” if he signs with the Clippers. The challenge for the Clippers’ front office is the marquee free agents, outside of Leonard, have already agreed to terms with other teams.
“Leonard wants to be joined by a top-flight free agent if he decides to leave Toronto for the Clippers and Butler’s rugged two-way game makes for an intriguing pairing. Clippers adviser Jerry West is also a known admirer of Butler,” Stein tweeted.