Kawhi Leonard is officially part of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The three-time All-Star and two-time NBA Finals MVP, signed for three years and $103 million, with the third year being a player option according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. He was eligible to sign up to a four year deal worth $141 million.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 10, 2019
The structure of this deal provides a lot of flexibility for Leonard, but also puts some added pressure on the Clippers. The contract aligns with that of new teammate Paul George, where the two are only under the team’s control for two years, making them eligible to become free agents in 2021. If the Clippers continue to be the Clippers and under perform, lose Kawhi’s trust, or simply Leonard wants to move-on, he can do so very easily.
And if he does leave, it sets him up for another huge paycheck.
As a free agent in 2021, Leonard could get a 10-year max contract that would be in the range of four years worth $196 million, according to Tom Haberstroh.
And as for Jerry West and the Clippers, the real test of keeping Kawhi happy and putting a great supporting cast together for seasons to come is more crucial than ever. The team gave up a plethora of draft picks to bring on George in order to lure Leonard, so they can’t afford to lose him. If Kawhi and George both leave in 2021, the Clippers run the risk of becoming irrelevant for years.
In the meantime, Clippers fans should enjoy having perhaps the best duo in the NBA and right now, the favorites to win the Finals next year.