Report: These two teams will make ‘hard push’ to sign Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard is eligible to become a free agent once again this summer if he declines his player option, which he is all but certainly going to do. There has been no real reason to think he will leave the Los Angeles Clippers, but at least two teams are waiting to pounce if he does.
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer was told by sources that the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks are both planning to make a “hard push” to sign Leonard if he tests free agency. Some executives reportedly believe that the Mavericks are the biggest threat to pry Leonard away from L.A., as they have salary cap flexibility and can offer Leonard the opportunity to play with a fellow top-10 player in Luka Doncic.
As O’Connor notes, Leonard tried to recruit Jimmy Butler to the Clippers before L.A. landed Paul George. That means Leonard wanted to play with Butler at some point and still might, which is why the Heat can’t be ruled out. Though, they do not have the necessary salary cap space to sign Leonard and would need to get creative with a sign-and-trade.
The New York Knicks are also monitoring the Leonard situation. It is common knowledge that they are in the market for a star player.
The thought of Leonard winding up in Dallas is intriguing. The Mavericks have already undergone significant changes this offseason by bringing in a new head coach and general manager. There also appears to be some tension between their two biggest stars.
George signed a five-year max extension with the Clippers last year, so he is committed to the team. Recent reports have indicated that Leonard is as well, but we know better than to rule anything out during an NBA offseason.