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#pounditThursday, February 22, 2024

‘Wild card’ Kawhi Leonard rumor will leave Clippers fans anxious

Kawhi Leonard in uniform

Feb 26, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Is the Kawhi Leonard era in jeopardy for the Los Angeles Clippers?

This offseason could turn into a major inflection point for Leonard and the LA franchise he’s called home for the last four seasons, as discussed by ESPN’s Zach Lowe on Tuesday’s edition of his “The Lowe Post” podcast (1:00:45 mark).

According to Lowe, Leonard and Paul George’s uncertain future with the Clippers is the “biggest subplot” of the offseason that isn’t being given the spotlight. With both All-Stars eligible for four-year max extensions this summer, his sources have told him the organization would not entertain such a deal with either one as things stand. The Clippers apparently have some hesitation about signing both players to max deals given how much time they each have missed due to injuries or load management.

For the NBA at large, that could throw a serious wrench into the entire offseason given the enigmatic nature Leonard has shown through the years — something the LA organization and its fan base are fully cognizant of by now.

“…I mean Kawhi is a black box, I have no idea what’s going on with Kawhi,” Lowe said on Leonard, as transcribed by Bleacher Report’s Paul Kasabian. “Maybe in some quarters there would be a willingness to recognize the reality that ‘we don’t play enough for this’ and there is negotiating wiggle room. But sometimes with stars, there isn’t. Sometimes with stars, you offend them by daring to negotiate. And if that’s the case, then there’s another wild card in the market as soon as next week because if you know, like, this is not an unknown to the powers to be in Los Angeles or with those representing those players. This is not an unknown playing field.”

Leonard has played in just 161 out of the Clippers’ 308 games since he arrived in the summer of 2019. He is set to earn $45.6 million in the upcoming season and has a $48.7 million player option for 2024-2025.

With the need to fill his new billion-dollar arena being built in Inglewood,, making the final call on both Leonard and George won’t be easy for Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.

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