Skip Bayless recently stated that he wouldn’t be surprised if Kawhi Leonard decides to exercise his player option and sign with the LA Lakers.
The biggest free agent during the 2019-20 off-season, Kawhi Leonard amazed everyone, when he signed a 3-year $103M deal with the LA Clippers. The contract gives Kawhi a player option post the 2020-21 NBA season.
This move took the NBA analysts and pundits by surprise, who expected the 2x NBA champion to either continue with the Raptors or join forces with LeBron James’ Lakers.
However, the 5x NBA All-Star, who is known to have a guarded and aloof personality, decided to take his talents to the Clippers, also known as the stepchild of LA.
In his 2 seasons with the LA Clippers, the 2x NBA Finals MVP averaged 26.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 5.0 APG, and 1.7 SPG on a 48.8% shooting from the field and 38.7% from beyond the arc.
Kawhi’s first year with the Clippers was met, with a disappointing end in the 2020 Orlando Bubble. The team blew a 3-1 lead in the eastern conference semi-finals against the relatively inexperienced Denver Nuggets.
This lead to a heavy backlash, as the Clippers were considered one of the favorites to win the chip that year.
The Clippers had a relatively successful season this year as the team clinched their first conference finals berth. However, Kawhi went down with a knee injury in Game Four of the semi-finals against the Utah Jazz, which led to him missing the conference finals.
Analyzing Kawhi Leonard’s off-season moves
Kawhi has a right to exercise his player option this off-season. It will be interesting to see if the former DPOY decides to stay with the Clippers or opt-out of his contract.
In a recent episode of Undisputed on FS1, analyst Skip Bayless was quoted saying that he wouldn’t be surprised if Kawhi decided to join forces with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Skip, who has had a love-hate relationship with the Clippers star over the years, has regularly spoken about the unpredictable nature of Kawhi and the fact that nobody knows what’s on his mind.
“I’m serious when I say this, if I suddenly heard that Kawhi had joined the Lakers, I would not be shocked by that. Because, I know I was shocked when he didn’t join the Lakers. We got shook up when this bombshell dropped. I’ll never forget opening up one of the websites and I saw Kawhi in a Clippers jersey.”
Kawhi was very close to signing with the Lakers during his free agency in 2019. However, the Clippers managed to convince the superstar by acquiring 7x NBA All-Star Paul George in exchange for several first-round draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Rumor mills suggest teams such as the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, and Miami Heat are interested in engaging in talks with the Clippers to acquire the 2x NBA Finals MVP.
Heat, Mavericks plan to make ‘hard push’ to acquire Kawhi Leonard in free agency, per reporthttps://t.co/u6bOlLucUM
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) July 1, 2021
It will be interesting to see if Kawhi decides to stay with the Clippers or opt-out. The signing of Ty Lue before the 2020-21 season followed by Paul George’s exceptional performances in the 2021 NBA Playoffs could be a major factor in Kawhi’s decision this off-season.