Kawhi Leonard commits future to Clippers with four-year deal
While a knee injury may keep him sidelined for the start of the 2021-22 season, the Clippers now know Kawhi Leonard is sticking around.
Kawhi Leonard has committed his future to the Los Angeles Clippers by agreeing a four-year contract that includes a player option, according to reports.
Leonard had declined a $36 million option to enter free agency after the NBA postseason, though it was expected he would opt to return to the Clippers.
The five-time NBA All-Star suffered a serious knee injury during the playoffs, going down during the Western Conference finals. Without him, Los Angeles went on to lose the series 4-2 to the Phoenix Suns.
Having undergone surgery to repair a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, it is unclear exactly when Leonard will be ready to get back on the court. It has been reported he will miss an extended amount of the 2021-22 season as he works his way back to full fitness.
However, the Clippers at least know they have him locked up for the long term. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Twitter that the deal is worth $176.3m with an option for the fourth and final year.
Leonard has averaged 26.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists since joining the Clippers in 2019, arriving at the franchise after an impressive title-winning campaign with the Toronto Raptors.
Joins forces with George
The 30-year-old opted to join forces with Paul George at the Clippers, with their two seasons together seeing the team finish second and then fourth in the West.
They went 36-16 when Leonard was active in the 2020-21 regular season, outscoring their opponents by 9.0 points per outing. In the 20 games he missed, however, their record was 11-9 and they were outscored by 1.1 points on average.
In the playoffs, L.A. have lost in the Conference semi-finals and Conference finals respectively in the past two seasons.