After opting out of the final year of his contract and becoming an unrestricted free agent, Forward Kawhi Leonard is expected to re-sign with the LA Clippers, ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
“The expectation is that Leonard will negotiate a new deal to stay with Clippers,” Wojnarowski tweeted.
The report came just minutes after Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes broke the story that Leonard would be opting out. While there were some recent rumors that Leonard might have a wandering eye for other destinations, these rumblings seem to have been put to rest. Though nothing is set in stone, the Clippers’ playoff success (they made it to their first-ever Western Conference Finals this postseason) seems to have convinced Leonard to remain in LA.
If Wojnarowski’s report proves to be accurate, the decision now comes down to the length of Leonard’s new contract. The All-NBA First-Teamer could sign a one-year deal worth $39.3 million in order to give the Clippers full Bird rights starting in 2022-23; this would allow them to offer him a max five-year deal in the summer of 2022. Leonard could seek also security and sign long-term with LA now, but the team can only offer a four-year deal with the early Bird rights they currently hold. Additionally, if Leonard was looking for security over maximum dollars, he could've just opted into the final year of his contract and signed an extension with LA. This would've ultimately netted him more money. All signs point to him signing a one-year deal.
The sooner Leonard inks his new deal, the sooner LA can turn to their other free agency tasks. Key role players Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum are reportedly being eyed by other teams, and the Clippers will be limited in the amount of money they can offer them.
Free agency officially begins Monday, Aug. 2, at 3 p.m.