Kawhi Leonard was on the Los Angeles Clippers' bench for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, but that's done little to stop speculation that the hard-to-read superstar and the team have divergent futures. On his show today, Colin Cowherd identified what he believes to be the most suitable place for Leonard to play ball next season: the Dallas Mavericks.
Cowherd enumerated the reasons.
Leonard is not a huge endorsement guy, therefore his money comes largely from salary. Texas, if you haven't heard a thousand times before, doesn't have a state income tax. Miami and Dallas have emerged in the public opinion as top suitors for the two-time NBA champion. Luka Doncic is quite obviously a superior talent to Jimmy Butler.
Doncic, Leonard, along with Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. is a championship team in Cowherd's mind — and most minds.
One thing to keep in mind here before we get too far down the road, is that a Doncic-Leonard pairing takes care of itself. But those two alone are not good enough or different enough in skillset to roll the ball out there and win a crown.
They'll need help in the form of a reliable presence in the middle. That could mean a drastically improved Porzingis or a replacement option should the Mavs find a partner on the trade market. It might not be the sexiest analysis but one could argue that solving that deficiency internally or externally is more important than the acquisition of Leonard.
And possibly more responsible in the long-term, as such a blockbuster would limit financial flexibility. Sure, Leonard is in the final year of the deal but would Mark Cuban really pull the trigger on something for one shot at glory? Especially with Doncic approaching his prime?
These considerations, plus the bare cupboard of assets in Miami have me thinking Kawhi stays put in Los Angeles and runs it back with Paul George. For all the naysayers, this team was some injury luck away from playing in the NBA Finals and George proved himself up to the moment. Not a terrible situation, even if the state taxes are a bear.