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#pounditWednesday, July 24, 2024

Stephen A. Smith calls for Kawhi Leonard to retire

Stephen A Smith reports from the sideline

Dec 18, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith broadcasts before a game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard will begin the offseason by recovering from yet another significant knee injury, and Stephen A. Smith believes it is time for the Los Angeles Clippers star to call it a career.

Leonard has a torn meniscus in his right knee, which is why he missed the final three games of the Clippers’ opening-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns. Shortly after that news surfaced on Wednesday, Smith once again blasted Leonard in a rant on ESPN’s “First Take.”

Smith said last week that Leonard is “one of the worst superstars this game has ever seen.” His criticism came on the same day Leonard’s sister, Kimesha Williams, was sentenced to life in prison for her role in the 2019 murder of an elderly woman. Smith said he regretted the timing of his comments but stood by them.

The longtime NBA analyst tripled down on Wednesday. Smith said Leonard needs to retire and the Clippers should pressure him to do so.

“Steve Ballmer and the Los Angeles Clippers should force Kawhi Leonard to retire. I’m done. He needs to go home,” Smith said. “It’s over. I’m not in any way questioning the legitimacy of Kawhi Leonard’s injury. As a matter of fact, I’m fully embracing it. I’ve heard very, very alarming stories about his health. You see people talking about (how) he’s walking around limping all the time. He is not a healthy individual.

“He’s the absolute worst superstar you could possibly have on your team. He’s barely ever there. On top of it all, he does nothing to market or promote your franchise — absolutely, positively nothing.”

You can hear more of Smith’s criticism below:

While Smith said he was not questioning the legitimacy of Leonard’s latest injury, he did wonder why it is that we never seem to witness Leonard getting hurt in real time. Smith referenced how Leonard averaged 34.5 points across the Clippers’ first two games against the Suns, only to later be diagnosed with a serious knee injury.

Leonard almost certainly is not going to retire. He has two years and roughly $90 million remaining on his contract with a $48 million player option for a third year. There has been talk of the Clippers undergoing serious changes this offseason, but we doubt Leonard walking away from basketball will be one of them.

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