The Clippers formally announced the Kawhi Leonard free agent acquisition Wednesday, dubbing it a “historic moment for our organization and our fans.“
LA also welcomed fellow All-Star forward Paul George into the fold, calling him “one of the greatest two-way players in our game,” with both players expected to be introduced next week.
Leonard, 28, reportedly inked a three-year deal worth $103 million, with a player option for the final season in 2021-22.
Per The LA Times:
The player option creates the possibility that not only could Leonard reenter free agency again after two seasons in a Clippers uniform, but the other half of the team’s superstar pairing could join him. George, a six-time all-star forward whose trade from Oklahoma City to the Clippers also became official Wednesday, also holds a player option for the 2021-22 season.
Leonard’s motivation for opting out in 2021 would be financial. By that time he will have finished his 10th NBA season, a threshold that allows players to sign contracts worth the maximum 35% of a team’s salary cap. By not signing a long-term contract now, there is some risk for Leonard to stay healthy. But one lesson of 2019 NBA free agency, as demonstrated by the cases of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, is that stars of the highest caliber can command maximum-salary, long-term contracts, even if injured.
In a statement, Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank hailed the signing as a “historic moment.” The franchise has never before landed a free agent with the credentials of the two-time most valuable player of the NBA Finals.
“Having him on our side is a tremendous privilege and a massive responsibility,” Frank said, “one we will take very seriously.”