Lawrence Frank celebrated his wedding anniversary in Los Angeles on Thursday with the other members of the Clippers Brain Trust for the 2021 NBA draft – all pondering the promise of another long-term commitment.
On Sunday, Leonard reportedly turned down the final season of his $ 36 million contract with the Clippers, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. That makes Leonard an unrestricted free agent – and once again possibly the hottest commodity on the market this off-season.
That depends, of course, on how inclined the five-time Moreno Valley All-Star is to buying in his services, an exercise that would raise questions about his relationship with the Clippers.
So far, there is evidence that his decision to opt out is likely a business tactic. He will join the free agency after serving 10 years of NBA service, which leads him to sign a more lucrative new contract with the Clippers starting at 35% of the salary cap.
In addition, Leonard, 30, could sign a two-year contract for $ 80.6 million with a player option for the second year. Then he could turn down the option in 2022 and sign what is perhaps the largest deal in NBA history: $ 235 million over five years – when he has a payday when he turns 31 and two serious injuries in his unwavering career has suffered.
Last December, Leonard said he was planning to opt out: “If I’m healthy, of course, the best decision is to decline the player option. But that doesn’t mean that I am going or staying. As I said, I’m concentrating on the season. We will talk about that in due course. ”
Following the draft on Thursday, Frank, the president of the Clippers basketball operations, spoke of Leonard and said they “hope to … have a very long-term relationship with him,” while allowing “our focus right now, like that of Kawhi, lying on him ”. health. He had a major operation. He tore his cruciate ligament. That will take a lot of time and we want to support him. ”
It will take the superstar months to recover from surgery to repair a torn right anterior cruciate ligament tear on July 13th.
Despite Leonard’s injury – which occurred late in Game 4 of the Clippers’ Western Conference semifinals series against Utah and prevented him from playing in the last eight playoff games of a run that ended in the Western Conference finals – was the five-time all- The NBA selection has leverage.
The Clippers mortgaged their future to land Leonard during Free Representation two years ago and abandoned a shipload of assets to mate him with Paul George. They exchanged Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and unprotected first-round picks with them in 2022, 2024 and 2026 and exchanged rights to Oklahoma City in 2023 and 2025 to acquire George, for whom they were awarded during the Annual $ 190 million pledged next five seasons. All of this leaves them without many obvious opportunities to improve the squad unless Leonard makes a long-term commitment.
Last season, Leonard was appointed to the All-NBA first team for the third time. He finished the regular season with a net score of 12.2, the sixth best in the league among players who have played at least 30 games. His 1.6 steals per contest finished 10th in the NBA.
In his 52 regular season competitions, the Clippers reached 36-16 and he averaged 24.8 points, shooting 51.2% from the field and 88.5% from the free throw line. The 6-foot-7 wing also grabbed 6.5 rebounds and recorded the best 5.2 assists of the career per game.
On Saturday, Leonard’s pal Serge Ibaka exercised his $ 9.7 million player option for the final season of his two-year contract with the Clippers, according to Charania, and confirmed it by a league source. Ibaka underwent end-of-season back surgery on June 11 after repairing an injury that resulted in him missing 30 regular season games in his first stint with the team.
The teams can officially negotiate with the free agents at 3 p.m. Monday. Aside from re-signing their own free agents, only the medium and minimum $ 5.9 million exemptions will be available to the Clippers to be added to the list.
You can cross the luxury tax threshold to bring Reggie Jackson back because they have early bird rights on their guard, which emerged as a catalyst in the postseason when he averaged 17.8 points and 40.8% off a 3 point Range shot. Jackson can sign a contract with the Clippers starting at $ 10.3 million, but it must last for at least two seasons (with no player option).
Nicolas Batum has non-bird rights, so he can sign a maximum of $ 3.1 million or the taxpayer exemption of $ 5.9 million. It’s worth noting that Batum – who will have other suitors, supposedly Golden State among them – will also make $ 9.0 million from Charlotte in 2021-22 and 2022-23 after the Hornets signed last season bought.
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