The Los Angeles Clippers Cinderella season finally came to an end in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns. The Clippers fell to the Suns as Phoenix blew them out by a whopping score of 130-103 on the road at Staples Center. The win came behind Suns star Chris Paul’s 41 points and 8 assists as Phoenix advanced to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993.
The Clippers who were seen as the NBA’s next “super team” when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joined forces in 2019 free agency, have failed to even make it to the NBA Finals for the second year in a row. Once again, the franchise will head into the offseason having yet to make a NBA finals appearance in the team’s history.
Knicks Could Chase Kawhi Leonard in Free Agency
The Clippers’ failure to make it to the championship round as disappointing as it was, can not be blamed on one person. Some of it came down to fate. Kawhi suffered a knee injury in the second round against the Utah Jazz, which essentially ruled him out for the rest of the playoffs. For the Clippers to even make it as far as they did was an accomplishment in itself.
Now as the offseason approaches, Leonard has a big decision to make. The two-time champion has the option to test free agency and possibly cut ties with the Clippers. According to a recent report by Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Knicks could be one of the two-time NBA Finals MVP’s biggest suitors should he choose to test the market.
“The Mavericks and Heat plan to make a hard push to acquire Leonard, league sources say the Knicks will also pursue any superstar that becomes available,” O’Connor writes. “And a long list of other suitors will at least make an attempt if he hits the market.”
Thibodeau Addresses Knicks Needs This Offseason
One bright spot for Knicks fans following a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks is that the front office has at least acknowledged that they need to revamp their roster this offseason. The Knicks are in unfamiliar territory. This is their first year not having a lottery pick since 2014 when they drafted Cleanthony Early 34th. As a result, they will have to do a lot more digging to see who they need to add in the draft.
While at the 2021 NBA Draft Combine, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau detailed what type of player, he is looking to add to New York’s roster this offseason.
“We’re always looking to add that shooting, and it’s not only shooting the three, but it’s going off the dribble as well, and also continuing to add defensive players,” Thibodeau said. “So, it’s an all-around game. We know that to have success in the playoffs, you have to be strong on both sides of the ball, so that’s what we’re striving towards.”
Shooting? Off the dribble? Defense? Kawhi checks all of those boxes. It might be a long shot, but if the Knicks can land Leonard in free agency, it would be a big bolster to their title hopes in 2022.