Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard is set to become a free agent after declining his player option for the 2021-22 season.
While rumors have persisted that Leonard will re-sign with Los Angeles, it no longer seems to be a given. The backdrop here being the ripped ACL he suffered in this year’s NBA playoffs and the improbability that Leonard will adjust anytime during the Campaign 2021-22.
From a logistics standpoint, this could change the type of market Leonard receives. He’s still going to get a max contract. These are now teams that are eagerly awaiting the 2022-2023 season. Below, we check out five ideal destinations for Kawhi Leonard during NBA free agency.
Michael Jordan adds Kawhi Leonard to Charlotte mix
Listen to us for a second. Charlotte is expected to have around $ 20 million to spend on free agency. Jordan and Co. could very well decide to use that on Leonard knowing full well that he won’t be adjusting this coming season. That almost makes too much sense with LaMelo Ball looking like a star and following James Bouknight’s selection in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Now why would Leonard do that? That’s the million dollar question. For us, it’s pretty straightforward. He can return in 2022-2023 while adding to a core group of Ball, Bouknight, Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges or PJ Washington. On the financial side, Charlotte may offer the Clippers that of Bridges or Washington as well as Terry Rozier to do this work. Los Angeles was linked with Rozier until the NBA trade deadline of March 25.
Chicago Bulls go big hunt with Kawhi Leonard
Close to two All-Stars in center Nikola Vucevic and winger Zach LaVine, the Bulls are looking to add another star player to the mix. They’ve been linked to Lonzo Ball before. But why not think about the long game here? Chicago has what it takes to sign and trade with the Clippers for Leonard. He also has the knack of competing for a playoff spot without him in the mix next season.
The idea here would be to send cork fillers like Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky to the Clippers a long time with a youngster in Coby White to make it work. Chicago would then have the assets to sign and trade with the New Orleans Pelicans for Lonzo Ball. Stranger things have happened.
Kawhi Leonard heads to the New York Knicks
With a free agency projection of $ 52.6 million, New York can afford to sign Leonard right away. This is one of the reasons the surprising Knicks have been linked with high-profile players heading to free agency in the NBA. The question here is whether front office chief Leon Rose can create more leeway to add another maximum contract player.
Right now, a team made up of Leonard, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett for the 2022-2023 season might not appear to be a contender for the championship. Of course, New York could very well decide to keep its remaining wiggle room to hit free agency 2022 hard when up to 10 future Hall of Fame members are set to see their contracts expire. But it’s on the road.
Dallas Mavericks make a splash with Kawhi Leonard
The interesting dynamic here is that Dallas might actually have the financial resources to directly sign Leonard if the two-time NBA Finals MVP chooses to leave the Clippers. It should have $ 33.5 million in cap. Moving Dwight Powell’s expiring contract and draft picks to a team with a cap room would give the Mavericks enough to do just that.
New Dallas general manager Nico Harrison is certainly thinking of the long game here. He also has excellent relationships with star players dating back to his days as an executive at Nike. With Luka Doncic yet to reach his peak, Dallas could push back their championship aspirations to 2022-2023. If so, then he could potentially add another star by shipping the bloated contract of a disgruntled Kristaps Porzingis next summer. Only a little food for thought.
Phoenix Suns stun the masses, trade for Kawhi Leonard
Now that it’s almost certain that Chris Paul will return among the reigning Western Conference champions, promising general manager James Jones could be looking to pull off an astonishing move going forward. While finances would be a little tough in a signing-and-swap deal with the Clippers, Jones and Co. could do just that.
One premise of a deal would be for youngsters Mikal Bridges and Jalen Smith to travel to Los Angeles with two cap fillers in that of Jae Crowder and Dario Saric. Phoenix would then offer several future first-round picks to make it worth it. If the Suns are then able to add free agency ring hunters, pulling those deep players away wouldn’t affect them too much in 2021-22 before the three cores of Paul, Leonard and Devin Booker look to dominate the season. next.