Television Personality and ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith gives his take on Kawhi Leonard’s free agency.
There is no denying that Kawhi is one of the top 5 players in the NBA currently. The 2x NBA champion is one of the most elite 2-way players we have ever seen.
Kawhi’s knee injury in Game Four of the western conference semi-finals was a major setback for the Clippers franchise. Though, they managed to pull through the semi-finals due to great performances by Paul George and Terence Mann.
However, It seems highly unlikely if the Clippers will be able to beat the Phoenix Suns, who are currently leading 3-2 in the WCF.
Kawhi was nothing short of phenomenal in the 2021 NBA playoffs. The 2x NBA Finals MVP averaged 30.4 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 2.1 SPG as he shot 57.3% from the field and 39.3% from the 3-point line.
Ty Lue’s coaching has been exceptional so far in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. The LA Clippers have overcome back-to-back 0-2 deficits under the leadership of Ty Lue.
Is Kawhi Leonard a good fit for the LA Clippers going forward?
NBA analyst Stephen A.Smith recently expressed his doubts regarding the Clippers’ plans with the 2x former DPOY going forward.
During the 2019-20 off-season, Kawhi signed a 3-year $103 million deal with the LA Clippers that included a player option as well.
Despite Kawhi’s great run in the playoffs, analyst Stephen A.Smith suggested how keeping Kawhi in the future would not be a great idea for the Clippers franchise.
“I don’t know if it’s in the Clippers’ best interest to keep him… Let me be clear about something: Kawhi Leonard is a top 5 talent in this game. He is elite. But when you take into account the load management, when you take into account that his personality doesn’t actually gravitate towards leadership, he’s more of a watch me do it… as opposed to galvanizing the troops and being a talker. And then you combine that with the fact that he is not necessarily reliable at least this postseason, hasn’t gotten any younger… it’s something that Ballmer and the crew have to think about long-term.”
“I don’t know if it’s in the Clippers best interest to keep him [Kawhi Leonard].”
– Stephen A. Smith
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) June 29, 2021
Smith’s comments come to light due to various instances that have occurred in the past. The LA Clippers did everything they could to make the franchise a championship contender. There were reports of Kawhi getting preferential treatment surfacing in the media. Kawhi was a major reason why the Clippers went on a limb to acquire Paul George.
However, the Clippers had a disappointing playoff exit in the 2020 Orlando Bubble despite being up 3-1. The 2x Finals MVP was often accused of not having leadership skills. The acquiring of NBA veteran Rajan Rondo was a major reason to fill the void of a leader in the Clippers locker room.