Kawhi Leonard
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Kawhi Leonard Should Be Thinking About These Teams In Free Agency

Kawhi Leonard is once again scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Fresh off a Finals MVP performance in 2019, The Klaw was one of the top names available in a loaded class of free agents. Leonard was sought after by many teams along with the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, and many others. He ultimately chose his hometown Los Angeles Clippers after a very drawn-out saga. It climaxed when the team gave up a record amount of assets in exchange for Paul George to form a star-studded wing duo. Instead of cashing out for a lucrative 4-year max contract, Kawhi instead signed a 2-year deal with a player option for a third season. All signs are pointing to him testing free agency for the second time in three offseasons. Here are three teams that could possibly lure Kawhi out of Los Angeles.

Team #1: The Miami Heat

The Heat have been a destination franchise for a long time. There is more than enough evidence of this. From good drafting and development records to luring top free agents. LeBron and Bosh in 2010, Jimmy Butler in 2019, Kawhi in 2021? Kevin O’Connor recently wrote that the Heat plan on making a push for Leonard, which is unsurprising. Reports even surfaced 2 years ago that Leonard tried recruiting Butler to join him in LA. Jimmy Buckets declined, and now it appears that things might go the reverse way with The Klaw possibly off to South Beach. It is certainly not a given, however.

Pat Riley would need to make some moves in order to open cap space. The Miami roster could lose some quality talent like Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn, or even the standout rookie Tyler Herro. They would also have to watch Victor Oladipo walk in free agency, but all of those names might be expendable. Especially when a First Team All-NBA selection is knocking on your door. A big three of Leonard, Butler, and Bam Adebayo would put the Eastern Conference on notice.

Team #2: The Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic desperately needs some help. Leonard has been able to see first-hand just how good the Slovenian is with back-to-back playoff matchups in the 2020 and 2021 First Round. From the Bubble buzzer-beater to some heroic statlines, Doncic has exhausted himself to no avail in the postseason. Leonard was able to stomp out the Mavs both times in 7 games with some incredible performances of his own. The thought of playing alongside a rising star in Doncic must intrigue him. Kawhi just passed the wrong side of 30, and Luka entering his prime while he slowly exits his own could spell some serious contention in Dallas. If the Mavs’ new regime can find a solution to their new problem named Kristaps Porzingis, then it should be no surprise to see them go all-in for Leonard or another top-shelf free agent.

Team #3: The New York Knicks

Hallelujah, the Knicks might have finally turned a corner. They are the most unlikely of the three teams but do deserve a shoutout. They have the coach of the year, an All-NBA forward, and a respectable stash of young talent and draft picks. Leonard should still be wary of The Mecca with James Dolan running the ship but he and Uncle Dennis might take it into consideration. If Kawhi holds the Knicks and their assets hostage like with the Clippers, then another big three could descend upon New York City. A trio of Leonard, Julius Randle, and a guy like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal could terrorize defenses as well. Leon Rose would have his work cut out for him but what a scene it would be with two genuine conference contenders nestled in the Big Apple.

Bonus Team #4: The Los Angeles Clippers!

Maybe Kawhi Leonard should not go anywhere. Los Angeles probably remains his top geographical desire for more reasons than one. It’s his hometown, the team is moving into a new arena in the near future, great sponsorship deals, and hey, the Clippers are still a pretty good basketball team. Paul George and Reggie Jackson both made statements during the 2021 Playoffs, and especially in Leonard’s absence. Ty Lue was able to go 8 or 9 deep without him and give problems to both the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz. Chances are a healthy Clippers team would have been able to go further than Game 6 in the Western Conference Finals. With the health of the crosstown Lakers uncertain and the Conference-winning Suns needing to lock up many key pieces, it’s more than worth a thought to run it back with this squad for at least one or two more seasons. However, Kawhi Leonard has more than proven that he is one of the most stubborn and enigmatic stars in the NBA, so we’re in for yet another free-agency saga.

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