The rumors of Kawhi Leonard’s discontent have begun.
Leonard will miss his fifth straight game when he sits for Game 4 of the Los Angeles Clippers‘ Western Conference Finals series against the Phoenix Suns, and naturally, the rumor mill is grinding harder with each absence, particularly because of the player option in his contract.
Leonard will choose whether or not he opts in for another year with the Clips this summer, and if he elects to opt out, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team willing to pay him around $40 million a year. He has previously strongly suggested he’d like to return to the Clippers, but one analyst says Kawhi is currently unhappy with one particular aspect of the organization.
Bayless Says Kawhi is ‘Unhappy’ With Medical Staff
According to Skip Bayless, who has been an outspoken Clippers fan for a while now, Leonard is not happy with the way the medical staff of the Clippers has handled his knee injury, which the team has only referred to as a “right knee sprain.” Here’s what Bayless had to say about the current situation with Kawhi and L.A. on the June 25th episode of Undisputed, via Fadeaway World:
I have been told by a very good source that the first issue became Kawhi was unhappy with the Clippers medical staff because he felt they early on misdiagnosed and underplayed the extent of this knee injury. What does that smack of? San Antonio all over again. … Kawhi Leonard is his own man, we know this. Once he gets a little sideways with medical staff, he’s going to pull away. He’s going to go to this doctor and that physical therapist, away from the team. Why is it that the team keeps saying ‘We’re not sure’ from game-to-game? They won’t rule him out. I think they’re just not communicating at all with him so they’re not sure what’s going on with him.
Bayless does have a point. The Clippers have been coy and non-committal when it comes to speaking about Leonard’s knee issue — at least publicly — never saying anything definitive either way about whether surgery may be needed. Bayless says he knows whether surgery is on the table, however.
Bayless: Kawhi Will Need Surgery
Bayless has also been saying for a while now that Leonard will be out for the remainder of the playoffs, and he doubled down on that. He also claims surgery is the next step for the Clippers superstar. “He’s gone. He’s going to need some type of surgery. I’m not sure what the extent of it is, but he’s out for the rest of the playoffs. But they don’t ever say he’s out because I think they’re not talking,” Bayless said.
He may be out of the lineup for now, but Leonard is still making his presence felt on and off the court. Clippers head coach Ty Lue said Kawhi has been in the mix “every day.”
“Just being able to hold guys accountable, talking to guys, talking to the players, what we need to do better on what he sees,” Lue said about Leonard. “If he knows the game plan, then he can definitely do that. So he’s talked to the guys every day, as well; not just the coaching staff. He’s very engaged and that’s what you need from your players. He’s locked in and still in tune.”
“He’s behind the scenes making sure that we’re staying ready and staying locked in on what we need to do, and he believes in us just like everybody believes in each other. We definitely listen when he talks to us,” Clippers guard Luke Kennard added.
Sooner or later, we’ll know the severity of Leonard’s knee injury, but until then, rumors of his unhappiness could — and likely will — continue to fly.