Kawhi Leonard will listen to other NBA teams in free agency
Kawhi Leonard has chosen to once again become a free agent, as he officially declined his $36 million player option on Sunday. He is widely expected to sign a new deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, but it sounds like other teams will be free to make their pitches to the two-time NBA Finals MVP.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports said on NBA TV Sunday night that Leonard will not make a decision quickly. He is expected to take his time and listen to offers from teams other than the Clippers.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 2, 2021
“He’s still going to go out there and test the market,” Haynes said. “I will say this — Kawhi is in a situation where it looks like he is expected to re-sign with the Clippers. But sources informed me that he will listen to other teams. I don’t expect this to be a Day 1 signing. … If you look at all the other Kawhi Leonard free agency summers, they tend to extend out.”
Haynes added that he ultimately expects Leonard to re-sign with the Clippers, possibly on a two-year contract with a player option for the second year. That would give him the freedom to test free agency yet again next summer.
There has been some recent speculation that Leonard could leave the Clippers, but it seems highly unlikely. Paul George is committed to the team through the 2023-24 season, and Leonard went out of his way to recruit George two years ago. If anything, Leonard may take his time in free agency in order to put pressure on the Clippers to improve their roster.
Leonard averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game for the Clippers this year. He’s at risk of missing the start of next season after undergoing knee surgery last month.