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#pounditThursday, May 13, 2021

Articles tagged: Kawhi Leonard

Report: Some Clippers have struggled with superstar treatment of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George

Kawhi Leonard

The LA Clippers instantly became title contenders when they traded for Paul George and signed Kawhi Leonard over the summer. Leonard had just led the Toronto Raptors to the championship and was named NBA Finals MVP. George was having an MVP-type season until he was derailed by shoulder injuries. Adding to the two players was a huge, franchise-changing coup for the Clippers.

But as great as the addition of both players has been for the organization, it has also brought new problems to the team.

Leonard and George are superstars, and superstars often receive star treatment. That is definitely the case with Kawhi, who adheres to a load/injury management schedule and often misses games even when the perception is that he is healthy.

Last season’s Clippers won 48 games and took two games off a vastly superior Warriors team in the playoffs. Many attributed the team’s success last season to their tough attitude and hard-nosed style of play. The load-management style is in contrast with the hard and grinding style the team had the season before.

That change in ethos, coupled with some of the star treatment Leonard and George receive, has been a difficult adjustment for some Clippers players, according to a report published Thursday by The Athletic’s Jovan Buha and Sam Amick.

From the article:

Off the court, sources say there are some teammates who have struggled with the organization’s preferential treatment that is afforded to Leonard and George.

The entire article is very much worth your time.

A team needing to make this kind of an adjustment to having superstars is part of the process when you acquire players like Leonard and George. It’s not an easy transition, and that’s what makes it challenging for superteams to win in their first season together. But if anyone knows what it takes to win it all, it’s Leonard. And while it’s frustrating to see the preferential treatment at times, the Clippers should trust that things will work out overall.

Clippers fans, show everyone who runs Los Angeles with this great “We Run LA” shirt:

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George met at Drake’s house to discuss teaming up

The two face-to-face meetings that helped unite Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the Los Angeles Clippers took place in a rather surprising spot.

Leonard and George had numerous discussions about joining together to play for the Clippers while Leonard was a free agent, but the pair only met in person twice while working through the process. Those meetings took place at rapper Drake’s house in Hidden Hills, California, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

The reason for this? Drake and Leonard had become friends during Leonard’s tenure with the Toronto Raptors. When Leonard visited Los Angeles to meet with teams, Drake permitted the forward to stay at his house, which is how Leonard and George ended up congregating there.

This actually fits with reporting at the time stating that Leonard had the Lakers move a meeting from El Segundo to Westlake Village in order to meet with George afterward. Hidden Hills is roughly an hour closer to Westlake Village, so it would make sense for this to be true.

The funny part about this is Drake is a well-known Raptors superfan who would have wanted to see Leonard stay in Toronto. In the end, his hospitality appears to have made it easier for Leonard to leave for Los Angeles, though that likely would have happened anyway.

Kawhi Leonard thinks LeBron James is ‘scared’ to guard him?

Kawhi Leonard

The rivalry between the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers may be intensifying a bit more.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith claimed on Wednesday’s edition of “First Take” that a “very reliable source” said that Leonard has said “somebody tell LeBron to stop being scared to guard me.”

This should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, there are NBA players who have previously had some negative things to say about Smith’s reporting. If true, though, it does reflect a certain level of disrespect from Leonard to James, who is being outright accused of fearing Leonard too much to guard the Clippers forward. It’s even more barbed considering Leonard has dominated the Lakers in two meetings, scoring 35 and 30 points in those games.

Regardless of whether Smith is right or not, there are definitely people close to the game who are thinking similar thoughts. James is used to being questioned, though, and he may feel personally challenged the next time the two meet.

Clippers fans, show everyone who runs Los Angeles with this great “We Run LA” shirt:

Kawhi Leonard addresses Uncle Dennis’ reported illegal demands

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard met with the media on Tuesday, a day ahead of his LA Clippers’ big game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas. The reigning NBA Finals MVP, who is in his first season with the Clippers, was asked to address a report by Sam Amick published Monday that stated the NBA investigated alleged illegal demands made by Dennis Robertson (aka “Uncle Dennis”), who is one of Leonard’s representatives, during free agency.

Leonard responded to the query by questioning the accuracy of the report and saying he has “no knowledge” of any improper requests.

According to the report, Robertson asked teams for perks beyond a standard contract, including part ownership of the team, a house, a private plane on constant stand-by, and guaranteed endorsement money. All such perks would be a violation of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Clippers were cleared of wrongdoing.

We had heard back in July that Robertson was making these outlandish requests of the Toronto Raptors, which the team took as signs that Leonard was not genuinely interested in a return to the team.

It’s hard to say whether the Clippers did anything wrong, but all signs pointed to Leonard just wanting to play for the Clippers, and that he was using the Lakers for leverage all along. In other words, as long as the Clippers got him another quality star — and they did with Paul George — he was going to be joining them.

Clippers fans, show everyone who runs Los Angeles with this great “We Run LA” shirt:

Report: NBA investigated Clippers over improper demands from Kawhi Leonard’s camp

Kawhi Leonard

The Lakers and Clippers are preparing to meet for the first time since Kawhi Leonard spurned the former to join the latter, and it’s pretty clear that the Lakers are still not pleased by how the saga played out.

There was definitely some suspicion at play, too, but the depth of that suspicion is laid bare in a new piece by Sam Amick of The Athletic. According to Amick, the Clippers were the subject of an NBA investigation after complaints surfaced that Dennis Robertson, Leonard’s uncle, asked teams for improper and illegal benefits during the free agent process.

According to Amick, Robertson’s demands included part ownership of the team, a house, a private plane on constant stand-by, and guaranteed endorsement money. All of those perks would be illegal under the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The Clippers were cleared of wrongdoing. The Lakers were also given that list of demands from Robertson, but owner Jeanie Buss correctly deemed them illegal and refused to offer them. Those discussions, however, helped fuel a growing sense that the Lakers were being used for leverage, and there remains deep frustration among some with the organization at how the process played out.

We did know that the league was looking into allegations of salary cap circumvention, but this is the first time we’ve heard that it specifically centered on the Clippers. We also hadn’t heard about the precise nature of Robertson’s absurd list of demands. What is clear is that the process ended up working out for the Clippers, but left a bad taste in the mouths of the Lakers, which should only serve to fuel the rivalry.

Watch: Kawhi Leonard gets standing ovation in Toronto during ring ceremony

Kawhi Leonard

The Los Angeles Clippers’ visit to Toronto on Wednesday was the occasion to give Kawhi Leonard his 2019 championship ring, and it’s safe to say that there are no hard feelings from Raptor fans.

Leonard was greeted with a standing ovation and “MVP” chants after a tribute video was shown. He greeted all of the remaining coaches and teammates he played with last season before being handed his ring by Kyle Lowry.

These ring ceremonies can be strange affairs when the receiving player is no longer on the team. Depending on the manner of departure, the fan reception can be awkward. That was not the case here. Toronto fans hold no ill will toward Leonard for leaving, and remember him as the man who helped deliver the Raptors’ first NBA title. The feeling appears to be mutual, and this was a good occasion for all.

Ivica Zubac seemingly spoils Kawhi Leonard’s return to Clippers

Ivica Zubac may have spoiled some significant Los Angeles Clippers injury news Wednesday.

With the status of forward Kawhi Leonard still up in the air, Zubac essentially revealed after the team’s shootaround that the plan was for Leonard and Paul George to finally play together on Wednesday.

Leonard hasn’t played since Nov. 13 as he battles a knee issue. That came at a bad time, as George recovered from shoulder issues to make his Clippers debut the next night. That means the two just haven’t quite been healthy at the same time.

Zubac certainly can’t be accused of being misleading about an injury — which his coach got fined for — when he’s going off-message like this.

Kawhi Leonard apologized to former teammate over inadvertent eye poke

Kawhi Leonard

Apparently robots can feel remorse too.

Toronto Raptors swingman OG Anunoby told reporters on Friday that he received an apology from former teammate Kawhi Leonard, who accidentally poked him in the eye during Monday’s loss to the LA Clippers.

“He felt bad, but it was an accident,” said Anunoby, per Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun. “We just talked. He just said sorry.”

The poke happened in the opening minutes of the contest, and knocked Anunoby out for the rest of it with an eye contusion. He missed Wednesday’s game against Portland too but is expected back for Saturday against Dallas.

Leonard is known for his stoic demeanor (such that his coach recently cracked a funny joke about it), so the apology to Anunoby might have been a brief one.

Doc Rivers cracks funny joke about Kawhi Leonard’s demeanor

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard is known for being one of the most “boring” players in the NBA, but his even-keeled personality has served him well throughout his career. If you expected to see a big change in him when the Los Angeles Clippers faced his former team, you would have been wrong.

Leading up to Monday’s game against the Toronto Raptors, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was asked by a reporter if he had noticed anything different about Leonard’s “demeanor” this week. Doc’s response was hilarious.

Leonard scored 12 points to go along with 11 rebounds, nine assists and three steals in his team’s 98-88 win, and he probably felt no different about the performance than he did when he was dominating the postseason last year en route to a title. The most emotion you’ll ever see from Kawhi was when he shared his big celebration plans following the NBA Finals.

Some confuse Leonard’s lack of visual emotion with indifference, but that is clearly not the case. He’s a competitor who is capable of taking over a game at any moment. Showcasing his feelings has just never been his thing, so it’s no surprise Monday night’s showdown with his former team was no different.

Clippers fined $50,000 by NBA for Doc Rivers’ comments on Kawhi Leonard

Doc Rivers

The NBA announced on Thursday that they have fined the LA Clippers $50,000 over Doc Rivers’ comments on the the Kawhi Leonard situation.

Leonard did not play in a nationally-televised game on ESPN Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks due to his ongoing “load management” plan.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday that Kawhi “feels great,” which led to further anger from fans who had paid to watch the great matchup and ended up seeing a Clippers team without their best player.

If Leonard “feels great,” then why isn’t he playing, fans wondered?

The Clippers argued to the league that Leonard is dealing with ongoing knee trouble, which is an argument the league accepted in allowing Leonard to miss the game under the league’s resting policy.

The league said in their statement about the fine that they determined Leonard is managing a knee condition.

Adam Silver has established himself as a player-friendly commissioner who supports the players’ desires to keep their bodies in optimal conditions, even if that means missing games. What they don’t want is the perception that players are missing games for no reason, which is why they fined the Clippers. Rivers’ comments make the league and team look worse for the suggestion that they are sitting a healthy player.