Kawhi Leonard is declining his $36 million player option with the Los Angeles Clippers. His current team remains the most likely to benefit from his services whenever he's healthy enough to return — which won't be for a long time. Leonard is 30-years-old and could opt for a four-year deal with the Clips or a one-and-one which would allow him to make another decision about his future following the 2022 year.
Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA. He'll also be coming off ACL surgery and comes with the unavoidable baggage refusing to communicate brings with it. So the question to ask L.A. fans this morning is if there's anything surrounding this situation that leaves them excited for the future.
Because I'm inclined to agree with Nick Wright, who painted the picture of low-level aggravation this morning on FS1's First Things First.
Wright forecasts a likely scenario in which three years of max money and the promise of more yields all of two first-round playoff victories for Leonard. Plus the real uncertainty of what's next. Laid out like that, one starts to wonder why, exactly, the Clippers would place their franchise in Kawhi's hands for multiple years and even more financial investment. At a certain point, doesn't Steve Ballmer start to wonder if more reliable and more team-friendly players might be a better option? Doesn't the front office hope a bidding war convinces Leonard pastures are greener outside of Southern California and gladly shift all those problems to someone else?
It seems odd that the best-case scenario for the franchise is this lingering, low-level of frustration and acceptance that the No. 1 player on the roster and on payroll is simply never going to keep you looped in on health status. Perhaps the Clippers wake up one day and realize they don't have to live with this. Or perhaps the next two years come and go with the same lingering edge.