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#pounditThursday, May 13, 2021

Articles tagged: Kawhi Leonard

Report: Clippers players took issue with Kawhi Leonard getting special treatment

Kawhi Leonard

The Los Angeles Clippers disappointed in the playoffs this year, and they also reportedly had some issues surrounding preferential treatment for superstar Kawhi Leonard.

The Clippers fired Doc Rivers as their head coach following the team’s disappointing loss to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals. They are hiring assistant coach Ty Lue to replace him.

In an article about the hiring of Lue, The Athletic’s Jovan Buha wrote about one of the issues the Clippers had surrounding Leonard. Buha says the preferential treatment Leonard received ruffled the feathers of some players.

Here is what Buha wrote:

Players like Beverley, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams — Clippers bedrocks before the arrival of Leonard and George — bristled when Leonard was permitted to take games off to manage his body and to live in San Diego, which often led to him being late for team flights, league sources said. The team also allowed Leonard to dictate to Rivers when he could be pulled from games, among other things.

Buha’s entire article is well worth a read.

This isn’t the first time Buha has brought up this point. He also reported in January that some Clippers took issue with the superstar treatment Leonard and Paul George received. Interestingly, Patrick Beverley, who was cited by Buha as an example, called the January report “fake news.”

The Clippers had to make numerous concessions in order to convince Leonard to sign with them. They also know he holds the power by being able to leave after just two seasons, so they probably feel they don’t have much leverage to stand up to him. But Leonard also wants to win, and in order to win, he needs to be held accountable. The Clippers may feel Lue will be strong enough to do that with Leonard. After all, Lue successfully did that with LeBron James in Cleveland.

Clippers fans, show everyone who runs Los Angeles with this great “We Run LA” shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here:

What is to blame for Clippers’ latest playoff failure

Kawhi Leonard

How does a team that began the season with championship aspirations find themselves listening to Paul George preach about loyalty after a catastrophic second-round defeat? The answer is because that team is the Los Angeles Clippers.

Since the Clippers’ arrival in Los Angeles, they have effectively filled the role of little brother to the iconic Los Angeles Lakers. Following the Clippers’ most recent postseason blunder, the Lakers now possess a prime opportunity to capture their record-tying 17th NBA championship, while their crosstown rivals have still yet to crack the code on advancing to the Western Conference Finals.

After acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers were supposed to finally exorcise the playoff demons that have haunted the franchise. Instead, the duo of All-Stars co-authored arguably the most painful playoff series loss in the franchise’s extensive history of painful playoff losses.

The team has already made a big move by firing Doc Rivers as head coach. Now they will look to maximize their potential next season.

But before the Clippers can move forward and set their sights to next season, they must revisit the events that transpired this year.

When they try to examine what went wrong, they must discover what is to blame. Here is our look at the culprits most at fault for the Clippers’ devastating series loss to the Denver Nuggets.

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Report: Clippers owner consulted Paul George, Kawhi Leonard before firing Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer was the one who made the decision to part ways with head coach Doc Rivers this week, but he did not make the move without first talking to his star players.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk shared some details on Tuesday from the days leading up to the divorce between Rivers and the Clippers. Ballmer and Rivers had multiple phone conversations over the course of more than a week following L.A.’s collapse against the Denver Nuggets, and Ballmer was left wondering if the franchise needed a new voice. Before he made a final decision, he spoke with president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank and team consultant Jerry West. Ballmer also reportedly sought opinions from several players, including Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

It’s unclear if Leonard and/or George vouched for Rivers, but Shelburne and Youngmisuk were told that nothing either play said changed Ballmer’s mind.

Ballmer bought the Clippers in 2014 and admitted he knew very little about running an NBA team at the time. He vowed to take his time and learn about the organization before making any major changes, but those close to him felt it was a matter of time before he put his stamp on the franchise.

The Clippers twice blew 3-1 leads in playoff series under Rivers. The collapse against Denver in Orlando was troubling enough, but the remarks made by Rivers and Clippers players after the series are likely what cost the coach his job.

George and Lou Williams pointed to chemistry as an issue for the Clippers. George also made some head-scratching comments about the team not having a championship-or-bust mentality despite their huge offseason moves.

Rivers made some strategic decisions in the postseason that reportedly left players scratching their heads, but the chemistry issues were likely far more of a concern for Ballmer. Time will tell if the decision to fire Rivers was the right one. We have already heard of some big-name candidates who could potentially replace him.

Clippers fans, show everyone who runs Los Angeles with this great “We Run LA” shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here:

Kawhi Leonard literally blocked a shot by his middle finger and Twitter loves it

Kawhi Leonard finger

Kawhi Leonard literally blocked a shot by his finger on Monday night, and fans could not get enough of it.

Leonard went up to challenge Jamal Murray on a dunk attempt late in the fourth quarter of Game 3 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets in their Western Conference semifinals series. Murray was unable to get the dunk because Leonard blocked the shot.

And how did he do it? The “Klaw” came out and deflected the shot with just a middle finger.

Here is the video:

Paul George had a funny comment about it.

What’s incredible is how intertwined this particular spectacular play is with Leonard’s brand.

Kawhi has long been recognized for his long fingers and has made it part of his “Klaw” logo. And then he both figuratively and literally gave Murray the middle finger in a key playoff game.

That block helped protect a 109-103 lead for the Clippers. They later won 113-107 to take a 2-1 series lead. “Playoff P” also showed up in a big way for the Clippers in the win.

Doc Rivers shares unique way he has used Kawhi Leonard on offense

Kawhi Leonard

In many ways, Kawhi Leonard’s game is very old-school. That’s especially true of his love of the mid-range jumper.

As jump shooters continue to move beyond the three-point line, Leonard remains one of the few players with a thriving mid-range game. That led Clippers coach Doc Rivers to dust off some old plays he drew up for one of his former players that he hasn’t used in years.

It’s safe to say Rivers enjoys coaching Leonard. Between his steady demeanor and the fact that Rivers can open up the playbook for him, that has to be a lot of fun.

Leonard scored a career-high 27.1 points per game this season. Whatever Rivers is doing for him, it seems to be working.

Damian Lillard says report about LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard is false

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard seems to be calling b.s. on a report about LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard.

The Los Angeles Times’ Brad Turner reported on Wednesday night that James and Leonard spoke at the NBA players’ meeting and were adamant about not playing the rest of the NBA playoffs.

Lillard responded with a comment on Instagram that suggested he thought the report was bad information. He asked “where they get this info?”

There have been mixed reports about what has happened. One report said the Clippers and Lakers voted in an informal poll not to keep playing the season. Other reports have said things were emotional and players need a day to gather themselves.

In separate meetings, NBA players and owners are expected to talk on Thursday about how to proceed.

As for Lillard, his Trail Blazers are down 3-1 in their first-round playoff series against the Lakers. Lillard reportedly is leaving Orlando and returning to Portland to have his knee examined.

Video: Kawhi Leonard stares at blank tablet screen before game

Kawhi Leonard

A video clip of Kawhi Leonard entering the building in Orlando ahead of his Los Angeles Clippers’ playoff game against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday went viral.

In the clip, Leonard is seen staring at the screen of a tablet device while walking into the building. The funny part came when it was revealed that Leonard was looking at a home screen that was blank.

Maybe Leonard toggled from one screen to the home screen just before the camera showed us the blank screen. Maybe he was using it for another function that we were unable to see. But the reason the clip went viral was funny — people thought Leonard was faking like he was busy doing something to avoid interacting with others, like the old “pretending to talk on your cell phone” move.

If you think Leonard is trying to avoid human interaction, then you don’t know Kawhi.

Actress January Jones shoots her shot with Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard may be considered a boring guy who has been compared to a robot, but that doesn’t seem to bother actress January Jones.

Leonard has shown no signs of rust since the NBA season resumed. Jones, who is best known for her role as Betty Draper in the TV series “Mad Men,” must have been impressed by the 29 points Leonard scored in the Los Angeles Clippers’ win over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night. The actress took to Instagram to shoot her shot with Kawhi.

For all of his postseason heroics and dazzling efforts on the court, Leonard has heard a lot about how he lacks a personality. He seems to have a great sense of humor about it, though, especially when it comes to his infamous awkward laugh. Jones is apparently into it.

Leonard is currently focused on helping the Clippers win an NBA title, but perhaps he’ll reach out to Jones when his schedule clears up.

Kawhi Leonard’s custom face mask is absolutely incredible

Kawhi Leonard sat out Saturday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, but he still attracted attention for what he was wearing.

The Los Angeles Clippers opted against playing Leonard Saturday in the first game of a back-to-back, citing injury management as the reason. That meant Leonard watched the game from the bench — with one of the strangest face masks anyone will ever see.

That looks like a telephone cord holding the mask in place, but it’s actually shoelace type of material, because the masks are made by Leonard’s sponsor, New Balance.

Leonard has always been willing to capitalize on his rather unique personality and sense of style, and that extends to his mask.

Video: Kawhi Leonard got bunny ears from Marcus Morris and was not amused

Kawhi Leonard

Do not mess with Kawhi Leonard when he has his gameface on.

Marcus Morris messed with Leonard late in the Los Angeles Clippers’ 126-103 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in Orlando, Fla. on Saturday. Morris gave Leonard the classic bunny ears, and Kawhi was not amused.

When it’s game time for Kawhi, it’s game time.

Leonard was the second-leading scorer for the Clippers in the win, putting up 24 points, six rebounds and five assists. Paul George led the team with 28 points, most of which came on his eight three-pointers. Morris had nine points.

The Clippers got out to such a big lead in the game early on that none of their starters played more than 27 minutes, leaving plenty of time for laughs on the bench — or serious faces, if you’re Kawhi.