Kawhi Leonard Chooses the LA Clippers
What’s the deal?
Kawhi Leonard is heading to the Clippers on a 4-year, $140,790,600 deal. The contract is fully guaranteed with Leonard’s base salary starting at $32.7 million.
Leonard would’ve been eligible for the 10-year experience Supermax next season, but elected to take the 4-year deal from the Clippers, opting for security over earnings. I’m sure seeing what KD went through after his torn Achilles affected Kawhi’s decision, and prompted him to get his insurance and take the contract now.
What does Leonard bring to the Clippers?
The Clippers have been lusting after Kawhi for the last two years . Rightfully so; LA might have just landed the best player in the NBA right now.
LAC was able to secure his signature only after trading Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danillo Gallenari, three unprotected future LAC picks (2022,2024,2026), two future Miami first rounder’s (2021 unprotected, 2023 top 14 protected), and two pick-swaps with the Clippers (2023,2025) to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Paul George. Leonard had reportedly been recruiting George to join him.
The two now join a Clippers core that won 50 games last season and pushed the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
What does this mean for the Clippers?
This makes the Clippers the favorites for the 2019-20 NBA Title, and they now join the ruling class of the Western Conference. This signing feels a little more important than say, LeBron signing with the Lakers, not just because of the seismic shifts it creates in the NBA, but because of the culmination of the work by the Clippers front office to remake their culture and manifest this dream.
Kawhi is by far the most important free agent signing in Clippers history, and it really shows that it takes more than just location to attract the best of the best. The Clippers wouldn’t have been able to attract Leonard without the ability and the assets to go out and get Paul George, a testament to the foresight and shrewd business that they have conducted over the past couple seasons.
Contract Grade: A+
The Clippers will have Leonard’s rights through the 2022-23 NBA season, and will be among the NBA’s top clubs for that stretch. Leonard has had his share of injuries, and I’m positive the Clippers are going to work with his personal medical team to manage his body throughout the season, just like this year with Toronto. His game should age pretty smoothly, although Kawhi has shown that he has slowed a bit on the defensive end, but remains an incredible on-ball defender with extraordinary reflexes. Offensively he will he able to get buckets in the mid-post for a long, long time and his shooting only seems like it’s improving as he ages.
Kawhi’s announcement essentially solidifies the pecking order in the league now with most of the free agents coming off the board. I can’t wait to see how Leonard and Paul George fit into the already established LA core of Pat Beverley, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Landry Shamet. They’ll have additional help after also adding Mo Harkless in a four-team trade that involved the Heat, LA, Philly, and Portland. The Western Conference is shaping up to be incredible this season, with the Lakers, Jazz, Clippers, Warriors, Rockets, and more vying for the crown.