During his press conference following Thursday night’s NBA Draft, LA Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank reaffirmed his team’s desire to retain All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard.
“We hope to have a very long-term relationship with him,” Frank said of Leonard. "Right now our focus is on his health. He had major surgery. He tore his ACL. So it's going to require a great deal of time and more support."
Leonard can become a free agent starting on Aug. 2 should he elect to opt out of the final year of his current contract. While there have been rumblings that his future is not set in stone, the general consensus among NBA insiders seems to be that he’ll re-sign with LA.
Frank also touched on the Clippers’ other free agents, Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum. The two veterans were crucial in LA’s Conference Finals run last season, and likely earned pay upgrades that the Clippers might be too financially strapped to provide.
“We want them back as clippers,” he said. “We respect that they have a choice to make.”
Frank also mentioned center Serge Ibaka, who has a player option as well. Frank said that the Clippers “hope” Ibaka opts into the final year of his contract. Ibaka dealt with a nagging back injury that kept him sidelined for much of the regular season and postseason. His season ended with back surgery, and it is unclear whether he’ll be fully recovered to start the 2021-22 season.
Free agency begins on Monday, Aug. 2 at 3 p.m.