Joel Embiid was talking with the media on Monday when Kawhi Leonard threw down his huge slam dunk against the Utah Jazz. Luckily, we were able to see his reaction to the moment in real time.
Leonard went viral for a huge dunk on Derrick Favors late in the second quarter of Game 4 between his Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz.
Embiid was doing a postgame media session following his Philadelphia 76ers’ overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 of their series. Check out Embiid’s reaction:
“You see that Kawhi dunk? Man,” Embiid said.
Embiid had a rough night for Philly. He went 0-for-12 in the second half and is trying to play through a knee injury. The Sixers also blew an 18-point lead. But as his reaction to the Leonard dunk showed, his spirit is not completely defeated, which is a good thing.
Kawhi Leonard went viral on Monday night for his incredible poster dunk on Derrick Favors.
Leonard was looking to help his Los Angeles Clippers even their Western Conference semifinals series against the Utah Jazz at 2. Late in the second quarter of Game 4, Leonard drove to the basket, jammed on Favors, and gave him a stare for good measure.
That was powerful.
The Clippers also shared a great photo of the dunk on Twitter:
It’s not often that Kawhi Leonard showers praise on an opponent, but Luka Doncic was good enough against the Los Angeles Clippers that it was warranted Sunday.
Though the Dallas Mavericks lost the series to the Clippers in seven games, Doncic was brilliant. He averaged 35.7 points, 10.3 assists, and 7.9 rebounds over the seven games, and did so despite battling a painful neck issue that visibly limited him at times.
After the game, Leonard admitted Doncic had been outstanding and credited him for doing “everything” for the Mavericks during the series.
Leonard certainly wouldn’t offer up this praise for just anybody. Plus, as a two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP, he knows how tough it is to play at this stage of the season. If he’s impressed, everybody else probably should be too.
It’s certainly clear that Doncic won more respect from both of the Clippers’ stars during the series, though it’s not really clear if the feeling was mutual.
Kawhi Leonard once again elevated his game in a clutch situation on Sunday, and the Los Angeles Clippers star also appeared to take his trash talking to the next level.
Leonard scored an easy basket late in the third quarter of Game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks that was made possible by Terance Mann badly missing a 3-point attempt from the corner. The shot fell right into Leonard’s hands as Kawhi was crashing the boards. After he scored and was fouled, Leonard looked in Mann’s direction and said “good pass.”
Leonard is known for being one of the more quiet players in the NBA, but that proves that even the quiet ones talk smack. The most emotion we’ve ever seen from Kawhi was when he shared his funny celebration plans after the Toronto Raptors won a title two years ago.
Missing a 3-point attempt that badly in a playoff game is painful enough, but Leonard made it that much worse for Mann.
The Los Angeles Clippers lost a pivotal game to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, and they were reminded afterword that some people still feel Staples Center is the Los Angeles Lakers’ house — even those who work at the arena.
Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer witnessed a group of Staples Center ushers mocking the Clippers from the 100 level following the team’s 105-100 loss. He said the smack talk continued as ushers were rounding up cardboard cutouts.
The Mavericks took a 3-2 series lead with the win, which puts the Clippers in a very tough spot. They now have to win Game 6 in Dallas and Game 7 back in L.A. if they want to avoid another disappointing early playoff exit.
L.A. lost the first two games of the series but bounced back to win Game 3 and Game 4. Serge Ibaka made it clear that the Clippers are not going to roll over when he sent this tweet, but some people who work at the team’s home arena are apparently hoping they do.
The Los Angeles Clippers remain unable to slow down Luka Doncic, and it sounds like coach Tyronn Lue is turning to his last resort to try to do it ahead of a pivotal Game 2.
The Clippers tried to use Patrick Beverley to defend Doncic in Game 1, but the Mavericks simply ran pick and roll plays to match Doncic up with center Ivica Zubac instead. Zubac struggled to deal with Doncic, forcing the Clippers into double-teams that left perimeter shooters open. Dorian Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined to go 9-of-14 from beyond the arc, a major factor in Dallas’ 113-103 win.
Notably, the Clippers opted not to put former Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard on Doncic. Lue suggested that will change in Game 2.
The worry for the Clippers is that putting Leonard on Doncic might force Leonard to expend a lot of energy defensively, causing his offense to suffer. After Doncic dropped 31 points and a triple-double in Game 1, it seems they’re not really left with a choice. The Clippers can hope the likes of Paul George step things up on offense so Leonard can focus on Doncic.
One thing is for sure: it wouldn’t be a good look for the Clippers to seemingly duck the Lakers, only to lose to Doncic and the Mavericks in the first round.
Kawhi Leonard will have the opportunity to test the free agent market again this offseason, but it does not sound like this process will be anywhere near as interesting as it was the last time he did.
Leonard has a $36 million player option for 2021-22 that he is expected to decline. However, according to Sam Amick and John Hollinger of The Athletic, the Los Angeles Clippers fully expect Leonard to re-sign with the team this offseason. That sentiment is shared by rival executives, who see Leonard remaining in Los Angeles “barring a dramatic turn of events.”
While it’s not impossible that Leonard softens his stance — the event of another Clippers playoff collapse is named as one factor — it’s widely known that Leonard wants to play in Southern California, and that was a decisive factor in his decision to join the Clippers in the first place. The organization has also removed uncertainty by keeping Leonard’s star teammate in the fold for years to come.
Leonard has been quiet about his upcoming free agency, but that’s the way he does things. For now, the 29-year-old seems pleased with the Clippers, and as long as that continues, his free agency appears unlikely to lead to much drama.
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The LA Clippers may not have much to worry about with the future of their fun guy.
Tom Haberstroh of TrueHoop reported this week that there is currently “no reason” to think that Kawhi Leonard will leave the Clippers this summer. Haberstroh quotes an anonymous non-Clippers executive who places the odds of Leonard leaving at less than one percent. The report also says that “most people” think Leonard will stay, noting how the Clippers afford him the luxury of commuting from his home in San Diego.
The 29-year-old Leonard has a $36 million player option for next season. Serge Ibaka, Leonard’s closest friend on the team, also has a player option of $9.7 million. But Leonard’s co-star Paul George recently signed a lucrative extension that will keep him with the Clippers through 2024, keeping a good foundation in place for the team.
Things can change quickly in the NBA, especially if the Clippers come up short again this postseason. But it is hard to imagine a cushier situation for Leonard, who already has two NBA titles and is given superstar concessions by the Clippers. While Leonard has been noncommittal on the subject of his free agency recently, there seems to be a very clear expectation that he will be staying put.
Kawhi Leonard is not exactly known for being vocal, but he appears to be developing on that front in the interest of becoming a better leader.
LA Clippers big man Serge Ibaka spoke recently on Leonard’s improved leadership skills this season. Ibaka had previously played with Leonard on the Toronto Raptors, winning the NBA championship together in 2019.
“I see him more vocal than my first year when we played in Toronto,” said Ibaka, per Farbod Esnaashari of SI. “This year he’s talking more, he’s involved more in everything. I can see he really learned from last year.”
The Clippers struggled from a leadership void of sorts last season. Leonard often seemed detached, and co-star Paul George ultimately failed to earn the respect of some teammates. Meanwhile, more tenured Clippers like Patrick Beverley, himself a very animated figure, appeared to have somewhat of a disconnect with the team’s new stars.
This season has been a different story though. The Clippers are 21-9 (third-best in the league) and have developed a palpable cohesion under new head coach Tyronn Lue. One of the team’s other starters has also spoken positively about the Clippers’ locker room atmosphere this year.
Kawhi Leonard’s various injuries have kept him from playing in back-to-backs for nearly four years now, but that finally changed this week.
The Los Angeles Clippers forward successfully played on back-to-back nights Tuesday and Wednesday. That’s the first time he’s done that since April 2017, when he was still a member of the San Antonio Spurs. Leonard made clear that he intends to keep playing in back-to-backs going forward as well.
“I mean, I think I’ll be playing, pretty much,” Leonard said Wednesday, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “The last few years, I was injured, and I worked on getting my leg stronger, and it’s been a long time. But I was patient, and I’m able to play.”
Clippers coach Ty Lue admitted that Leonard was a bit fatigued early in the second game of the back-to-back against Golden State, but felt fine afterwards. He scored 21 points in 35 minutes in that game Wednesday.
Leonard has at times been scrutinized for his infamous “load management.” There were, however, signs that the team was ready to start backing away from that toward the end of last season. Now it looks like they have once and for all.