NBA rumors: Kawhi Leonard says he’s likely to opt out, won’t commit to the Clippers

Jan 26, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) looks on against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

NBA rumors in Southern California this fall indicated that there’s some sort of issues behind the scenes relating to the Los Angeles Clippers. That includes Kawhi Leonard and Paul George receiving preferential treatment from former head coach Doc Rivers.

Immediately after these NBA rumors broke, George signed a four-year max extension with the Clippers. The star forward could have opted out of his contract following the 2020-21 season to become a free agent next summer. George chose for long-term security.

The same thing is highly unlikely to be the case with former NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

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NBA rumors: Kawhi Leonard says he’s likely to opt out, won’t commit to the Clippers

Leonard, 29, is set to earn a base salary of $36.02 million in 2021-22. Obviously, he’d see a major uptick in annual salary on top of long-term security should he opt out of the contract. As with George, Kawhi Leonard would also earn more by opting to re-sign with the Clippers.

The most interesting thing here is Leonard’s unwillingness to commit to the Clippers. “It doesn’t mean I’m staying or leaving.” Given that the Clippers can offer more than any other team, a lack of commitment could be a bad omen for the organization. At the very least, NBA rumors will pick up in this regard a ton moving forward.

Despite the Clippers’ early playoff exit in 2019-20, Kawhi Leonard enjoyed a tremendous first season with the organization. He averaged a career-high 27.1 points to go with 7.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 47% from the field.

Heading into the 2020-21 campaign, Leonard apparently wants to see how things turn out before committing to the Clippers long-term. This all comes amid NBA rumors suggesting that the Clippers’ rivals in that of the Los Angeles Lakers plan on going big-game hunting in free agency next summer. You can hear the speculation already.

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NBA rumors: Clippers being investigated for tampering with Kawhi Leonard

NBA rumors: Kawhi Leonard
Mar 3, 2020; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after a basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

All of this comes on the heels of the Clippers being investigated by the NBA for allegations of tampering with Leonard in free agency ahead of the 2019-20 season.

A lawsuit by Johnny Wilkes claims that Clippers board member and NBA GOAT Jerry West paid him $2.5 million for a variety of services, including helping recruit Kawhi Leonard to Los Angeles long before the start of free agency in July of 2019. These wild allegations act as a major backdrop we’re seeing with the Clippers on the eve of their 2020-21 season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers.

As one of the top title contenders in the Western Conference, new Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue is dealing with a lot of noise behind the scenes. These two situations add a whole new layer to that.

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