- The Los Angeles Clippers have re-signed Kawhi Leonard to a four year, $176.3 million USD deal.
- Leonard had declined his 2021-2022 player option for $36 million on August 1 to become a free agent.
- The Clippers remain a co-fifth favorite in NBA futures betting odds at +1600.
Not really a surprise, but Kawhi Leonard will be returning to the LA Clippers. Earlier today, the Clippers announced that they had inked the 30 year old Leonard to a four year contract worth $176.3 million USD. The fourth year of the deal includes a player option meaning the Clippers will likely have to go through the same song and dance three years down the road.
Clippers’ President of Basketball operations Lawrence Frank showed no ‘buyers remorse’ as he spoke effusively about Leonard:
“Kawhi is a transcendent player and a relentless worker who improves himself every day. We share many of the same goals, which include a long-term relationship. This agreement marks another important moment for our franchise and our fans, as we strive to create a championship-caliber organization, where players find the success and fulfillment they seek. We’re eager to continue building with Kawhi.”
Leonard had the option of signing a shorter term deal worth $82 million USD over two years with a player option in 2022-2023. At that point, he could have declined the option and become a free agent again which would have made him eligible for a five year $235 million USD max contract with the Clippers. Leonard opted for the longer term deal which does leave some money on the table. Leonard declined his $36 million USD player option for the 2021-2022 season to test the free agent waters though it was presumed all along that he’d be returning to the Clippers. The fact that Leonard will likely miss a good chunk of next season recovering from surgery to repair a partially torn ACL further undermining his short term marketability.
The Clippers’ Frank spoke of Leonard’s injury during his statement:
“For now, we will do whatever we can to support him in his recovery from injury. We look forward to seeing him back where he wants to be, on the court with his teammates.”
The Clippers reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history last season though they didn’t get a good shot at the Phoenix Suns due to Leonard’s injury. They’ve been able to keep their core contributors together during the off season re-signing Leonard, Jackson and Nicolas Batum. Serge Ibaka picked up his second year player option and will return as well. In addition, the Clippers brought in free-agent forward Justise Winslow to provide some help in mitigating the challenge presented by Leonard’s knee injury.
As of yet, the re-signing of Leonard hasn’t given the Clippers a boost in NBA Championship futures betting odds. In fact, the numbers at BetOnline.ag have become fractionally longer since they were first posted on July 20, 2021. At that point, the Clippers along with the Philadelphia 76ers were at +1400 putting them behind the Brooklyn Nets (+325), Los Angeles Lakers (+475), Milwaukee Bucks (+700), Phoenix Suns (+900) and Golden State Warriors (+1000). In the current odds from BetOnline, the Nets remain the overall favorite (+300) ahead of the Lakers (+325), Bucks (+900) and Warriors (+1100). The Clippers, Sixers and Phoenix Suns are all priced at +1600.