The Los Angeles Lakers and the LA Clippers will be battling for Western Conference supremacy over the next couple of months, but that is not stopping Kawhi Leonard from showing some hospitality.
Lakers center Dwight Howard revealed in a post to his Instagram Story on Saturday that he had gotten a gift in the bubble from the Clippers star, specifically a package of some New Balance gear.
“Kawhi thanks for the gear bro,” Howard wrote in the caption.
Leonard has become the face of New Balance and was even spotted earlier this year representing the brand at a strip club. Howard, meanwhile, used to be an Adidas athlete before signing a deal with Chinese brand Peak in 2015. As of this season however, he is a sneaker free agent, so this might be a recruitment effort on Leonard’s part.
While there are rivalries between other members of the Lakers and Clippers, Leonard and Howard appear to be cool enough with each other, at least for the purposes of potential business opportunities.
Kawhi Leonard has joined his Los Angeles Clippers in Orlando for the NBA’s resumed season, but he is currently going through a quarantine period.
The Clippers traveled to Orlando on Wednesday to begin their quarantine period before being cleared to live the bubble life created in Disney World. Leonard was not part of that trip due to a family matter, according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers shared on Saturday that Leonard is now with the team.
In addition to Leonard, JaMychal Green traveled separately due to a family matter and reportedly is set to join the Clippers on Sunday.
The Clippers enter the resumed season with a 44-20 record, which has them second in the West. They are expected to be among the contenders for the championship. Leonard was last year’s NBA Finals MVP with Toronto and is looking to win a championship with a third NBA team.
Kawhi Leonard’s injury management had been a major storyline of his first season with the LA Clippers, and now there might be some answers about what that program would look like during a makeshift playoff period.
In a mailbag article this week, Clippers beat writer Jovan Buha of The Athletic wrote that he believes Leonard would play in back-to-backs if necessary in a condensed postseason. Buha thinks that would be true even with some injury risk for Leonard, just as long as it is not career-threatening.
Leonard, who continues to manage patellar tendinopathy in his left knee, sat out 51 of 64 games for the Clippers this season after missing 22 of 82 with the Toronto Raptors last season. The Clippers had also been keeping him to a modest 32.2 minutes per game on the year as a whole.
Granted, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said just before play was suspended that the reigning Finals MVP no longer had any restrictions. While Leonard’s injury may not be completely healed by the time that play resumes, the two months off and counting figure to help, and he could be full throttle for the postseason, if and however that takes place.
The selections for All-NBA forwards and centers present an interesting dilemma, as they strictly adhere to a two forward, one center format. In today’s position-less pace-and-space era of the NBA, it seems antiquated to require one center per All-NBA team. With the game speeding up and a premium being placed on spacing, there is a significant decrease in demand for traditional centers. Teams like the Houston Rockets don’t even believe in playing a center.
The NBA recognized this shift in basketball ideology by removing positions from the frontcourt of the All-Star ballot and allowing for three frontcourt players of any position to be named a starter. While this was a step in the right direction, no changes have been made to the format of the All-NBA teams, resulting in less deserving players on the All-NBA teams simply due to their position.
With that caveat in mind, here are my selections for the All-NBA forwards and centers. (You can see my 2020 All-NBA guards here)
Several NBA stars want to resume the current season, according to a report.
Yahoo’s Chris B. Haynes reported on Tuesday that Chris Paul, who is the president of the players’ association, arranged a call with many other top players in the league to discuss the resumption of the season. Haynes says the call included LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook.
All players agreed that they wanted to resume the current season when it is safe. The belief is that the superstars all being on the same page will influence the direction of the league.
With the exception of Curry, Durant and Lillard, the players on that call mostly are on championship-contending teams, and therefore would have more incentive to resume the season. Haynes says many players not on playoff contenders feel the season should only resume with playoff teams to minimize the risk of virus exposure.
One issue some players are considering is that the next collective bargaining agreement would be negatively affected if the season were not resumed. That is a concern that was raised by one veteran player.
DeAndre Hopkins wants the state of Arizona to know that he is a fun guy.
In his first message to Cardinals fans since being acquired in a trade from the Houston Texans, the All-Pro receiver went full Kawhi Leonard, complete with a resounding “What it do baby?”
Hopkins, who pulled down 104 catches for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019, was dealt to the Cardinals in exchange for a package centered around running back David Johnson and a 2020 second-round pick. He had spent the first seven years of his career in Houston and will now be getting a fresh start.
While there was some bad blood that seemed to spur Hopkins’ Texans exit, it is all love in Arizona now that the scorned man got a trade.
The NBA and several other sports leagues are considering the possibility of playing games in front of empty arenas and stadiums due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, but Kawhi Leonard thinks the decision to attend a game or stay home should be left in the hands of the fans.
With concern increasing that the NBA will stop allowing fans to attend games, Leonard told reporters on Tuesday that he believes the league should leave it up to fans to decide if they want to risk exposing themselves to coronavirus.
Several players have said they would be disappointed if games are played without fans, though LeBron James recently changed his stance on the topic.
Obviously, the NBA and team owners don’t want to have to play games in empty arenas, but this is an unprecedented situation. If mandates are handed down by local, state and/or federal officials, the league will have no choice but to comply.
As the NBA postseason nears, Kawhi Leonard appears to be nearing full strength as well.
Before the LA Clippers played the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, head coach Doc Rivers discussed Kawhi Leonard’s defensive workload amid his increased responsibility of late to check the top scorers of the opposing team.
“Health-wise, Kawhi can guard anyone now,” said Rivers, per Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. “He doesn’t have to worry about his minutes. Now there’s no restrictions on him anymore and so that’s great.”
While he is still sitting out of back-to-back contests, Leonard has slowly crept up to 32.4 minutes per game on the season. While that is still down from the 34.0 per game that he averaged with the Toronto Raptors last year, he has seen 36 minutes or more in four games now over the last month.
Rivers has had to defend the team’s handling of Leonard’s health many times this season, but with the reigning Finals MVP seemingly peaking at just the right time, hopefully their strategy is working.
Kawhi Leonard spoke publicly about Kobe Bryant’s death for the first time on Wednesday, and the Los Angeles Clippers star said he is unsure if the helicopter crash that killed Kobe, Kobe’s daughter and seven others will discourage him from using that method of transportation in the future.
Leonard said that Ara Zobayan, the pilot of the helicopter that crashed, had flown him to and from many games in the past. He said there were times when Zobayan would pick him up after having just taken Kobe somewhere, and Leonard described Zobayan as a “good dude.” When asked if the crash will give him pause about traveling via helicopter in the future, Leonard said he is not sure.
Zobayan was, by all indications, a very trusted pilot. He was Bryant’s preferred pilot, so Kobe must have had good reasons for that. Unfortunately, freak accidents happen.
Sunday’s crash is still under investigation, but some audio that was released from the minutes before it happened indicated Zobayan was trying to navigate through bad weather. It appears that was a factor.
Kawhi Leonard’s dedication to the New Balance brand is unmatched.
Video of Leonard hanging out at legendary Atlanta strip club Magic City spread online Saturday. Leonard is seen sitting in an open booth and making it rain on a girl giving him a dance. He also was seen in another photo hanging out at the bar.
What’s notable is that unlike others who may dress up when they go out and want to look fancy at a club, Leonard was just chilling in a white New Balance hooded sweatshirt.
That’s probably not too surprising considering Leonard is not out to impress people and has a laid-back personality style. He’s all about comfort and his brand, even at the club.
The timing of the video might upset some. Leonard played and led the Clippers in scoring in a win over Dallas on Tuesday night. They faced the Hawks in Atlanta the following night and lost, with Leonard missing the game as part of his “injury management” program. Kawhi did play in a win over Miami on Friday night though and recorded a triple-double in the win.
You might not like his practice of missing games, but you can’t disagree about him being a “Fun Guy.”