It was a fascinating and inconceivably wild day in the NBA today and despite it all we’re no closer to the next big free agent domino following than we were at the beginning of it.
To put things simply, Kawhi Leonard remains an unsigned free agent four days after the the 2019-20 season officially began. According to Jabari Young of The Athletic, it’s possible that he’ll remain that way for the next few days.
Young reports that he’s been told Leonard does not intend to make a decision on his free agency tonight. The sentiment echos what Cris Carter of Fox Sports 1 said earlier in the day; that Leonard remains undecided.
The dose of reality put a lid on a day of rampant speculation but, ultimately, chasing something around in a helicopter doesn’t make it news. (On a personal note, Canadians are weird but we’re not that weird. Y’all did this for LeBron, you know)
We’re back then, right at square one, which is as fine a place as any. So, let’s let the talking heads tilt the sportsbook back and forth all they want – I see you, Jalen – and focus instead on what we regular heads know.
There are two teams with the ability to create a max slot for Leonard, a third that could have but chose not to, and a fourth that doesn’t even need to. The Lakers and Clippers can offer Leonard $141 million while the Raptors can offer an additional fifth year which would bring his overall deal value to $192 million.
These full max numbers are especially interesting given the second part of Young’s aforementioned tweet; that Leonard hasn’t discussed any two-year deals. That’s a significant development.
The two-year scenario seemed like a plausible one given that it would put Leonard right back in free agency as a 10-year veteran, just in time to qualify for a 35% max contract regardless of where he signed. Additionally, a two-year pact could have given him the opportunity to revisit free agency either next summer or in 2021.
Instead Leonard will contemplate longer-term deals, which could be part of the reason why he’s taking his time to consider the commitment he’s about to make.
To Leonard’s credit, while four days in today’s news cycle may feel like an eternity, Durant waited until July 4 to announce his decision that he was joining the Warriors. LeBron James’ infamous broadcast of The Decision didn’t air until July 8.