Los Angeles Clippers star forward Kawhi Leonard has revealed that he will likely decline his player option next summer and become a free agent but acknowledged that wouldn't mean that he's departing from Los Angeles.
Leonard, who signed a three-year deal with the Clippers in the summer of 2019, will earn $36 million with opting in but could earn $39.3 million upward if he decides to become a free agent and chase a new contract. "Just for my situation right now, I'm just focused on this season," Leonard said regarding his contract situation, per ESPN.
"Not saying I'm going anywhere else or staying here, but I'm just focused on the season. "Obviously, if I'm healthy, the best decision is to decline the player option. But that doesn't mean I'm leaving or staying.
I'm focused on the season, like I said. We'll talk about that when the time is right."
Leonard happy for Paul George
This free agency, six-time NBA All Star George said he would love to finish his career with the Clippers and help them win their first NBA Championship.
Days later, the Clippers and 30-year-old George agreed on a five-year, $226 million deal. Leonard and George failed to win it all in their first season but now they are ready to run it back and try to help the Clippers finally win their first title.
"I spoke to Paul, he felt comfortable here," said Leonard, who grew up in nearby Moreno Valley. "He loves the city, he's obviously from here, so I think from his standpoint, he did a great job of coming to me and telling me how he feels before signing the contract."
Meanwhile, Clippers head coach Ty Lue revealed that the team plans to employ triangle sets and use Leonard like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. "We have put in two or three sets from the triangle and let Kawhi play in those spaces where Kobe and Jordan played in those spots as well," said Lue, who played for Phil Jackson, where he learned the triangle, per ESPN.
"[Leonard] loves those two players. He really respects and looks up to those guys, so we're just trying to put him in positions [to succeed]. I was able to play with both those guys, but I also played in the triangle, so just trying to teach him that as well as teaching our team as well."