Kawhi Leonard formally signed his contract with the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.
Leonard was eligible to earn up to $141 million over four years by joining the Clippers. However, Charania reported his contract is for three years and $103 million, with a player option in the third year.
The structure of Leonard’s deal allows him to have a lot of flexibility if he’s ultimately unhappy in Los Angeles or simply wants a new challenge. NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh added the three-time All-Star stands to gain a lot financially as well.
This sets up a free-agent bonanza in 2021. Leonard, Paul George, LeBron James, Bradley Beal and Giannis Antetokounmpo are all either unrestricted free agents or eligible to opt out of their contracts during that offseason. Assuming Leonard opts out, getting him for two years instead of four years still makes the Clippers’ gambit worth it. Landing Leonard and acquiring George was a statement of intent from the franchise and immediately makes it a championship threat.
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Leonard’s decision to sign for only three years adds a little more risk, however.
The Clippers leveraged their future in order to convince him to sign. They traded first-round picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for George and the Thunder have the right to swap first-rounders in 2023 and 2025.
Joining the Clippers appears to have been Leonard’s preferred move. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported he reached out to Kevin Durant about joining him in L.A. before shifting to George. One would presume he has every intention at the moment of re-signing with the Clippers in two years.
But a lot of things can change before then. This summer already accelerated the Clippers’ timeline for title contention and now they have even more urgency to make the most of the next two seasons.
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