Kawhi Leonard watched from the Los Angeles Clippers bench as his team dropped a win-or-go-home Game 6 matchup against the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night.
With now two seasons of failed postseason attempts with the Clips under his belt, the superstar forward is heading into the player option year of his contract. If Leonard wanted to, he could become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
While recent championship success has escaped Kawhi, a couple teams are still reportedly chomping at the bit to land the two-time Finals MVP.
According to NBA insider Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, both the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat plan to make a “hard push” to acquire Leonard.
With the rising superstardom of Luka Doncic already on the roster, the Mavs are certainly an enticing landing spot for any big-time free agent — and the current roster build gives the team’s front office the ability to create max cap room or work out a sign-and-trade deal. O’Connor also noted that during Kawhi’s time with Nike, the five-time All Star developed a solid relationship with Nico Harrison, a former longtime company executive and newly-hired GM in Dallas.
Leonard also has some solid connections with the Heat organization. Before Paul George was acquired by the Clippers, Kawhi worked to recruit Miami star Jimmy Butler to the team. The Heat don’t have much in the way of cap space, but they could certainly put together an interesting sign-and-trade offer.
With all this in mind, all signs are currently pointing to Kawhi staying with the Clippers in 2021-22.
Even with the LA native injured since the Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, the team was able to push their WCF series to six games. If Leonard was healthy, there’s no telling how far the Clippers could’ve gone.
Kawhi also reportedly purchased a $17.1 million Los Angeles home back in March. While this doesn’t guarantee he’s sticking around, it certainly indicates some level of commitment to the area.
If Leonard were to leave the Clippers this summer, he’d be playing with his fourth team in just five years.