Kawhi Leonard is one of the best basketball players on the planet when he is available to play. He is also a walking headache for teams hoping to benefit from his services. Even the Los Angeles Clippers, the favorites to retain him, cannot rule out the possibility he finds a way to play the smallest fraction of a potential one-and-one deal before bolting for greener pastures. And while it's admirable that Kawhi's circle can keep a secret better than anyone in 2021, some of his Machiavellian moves are beginning to rub some the wrong way.
Kendrick Perkins spoke about the situation on First Take this morning.
"We have been letting him off the hook for too long," Perkins said. "He's a guy that flies under the radar that has been doing sneaky stuff, been getting catered to, and just because he's quiet we don't address him."
Perkins then referenced Leonard using a phone call from Russell Westbrook as leverage to court Paul George to the Clippers. And how Leonard wasn't a neutral observer in the push that shoved Doc Rivers out of the coaching box in Los Angeles. And now Leonard hung out in the suite level instead of the bench while injured this postseason.
All decent points. But part of the reason Kawhi is saved from this type of punditry is because he simply refuses to give any oxygen to any of it. There's a lesson there, yet not a replicable one. Being a superstar requires being different and the Quiet Guy corner is already covered. That status has largely insulated its inhabitant from criticism, so Perkins' thesis stands out.
I'll predict we hear more that sounds like this, especially if the next two years continue to be an exercise in wasted opportunity.