The Los Angeles Clippers have secured Kawhi Leonard's services long-term as they signed the 2019 NBA Finals MVP to a four-year $176.3 million deal. The new deal includes a player option in the fourth year. After leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title in 2019, Leonard decided to sign with the Clippers.
Leonard's first two season in Los Angeles didn't go as planned but still he decided to stay. "Kawhi is a transcendent player and a relentless worker who improves himself every day," said Lawrence Frank, the team's president of basketball operations, in a statement.
"We share many of the same goals, which include a long-term relationship. This agreement marks another important moment for our franchise and our fans, as we strive to create a championship-caliber organization, where players find the success and fulfillment they seek.
We're eager to continue building with Kawhi."
Leonard recovering from his injury
Leonard missed the entire Western Conference Finals series versus the Phoenix Suns due to a partially torn ACL. It was a big blow for the Clippers, who couldn't beat the Suns without Leonard.
"For now, we will do whatever we can to support him in his recovery from injury," Frank said in the statement. "We look forward to seeing him back where he wants to be, on the court with his teammates."
After the Clippers lost to the Suns, Paul George said the Clippers would have won the series had Leonard played. "We'd be going on," George said when asked what would have happened had Leonard played in the conference finals.
"This series would be a lot different. Talk about one of the best players in the league being out, yet we were inches away from getting to the next round. "So definitely it's a 'what if' on this. Fact of the matter is we didn't do enough to win, and that's the reason we're going home."
George was hoping Leonard would stay and his wish got fulfilled. "We've made great connections," George said. "I think we've both grown, myself and Kawhi together. I think we really enjoy being teammates, and we see what we can be and with a we can do."
George later added about the team's injuries: "I thought this team squeezed everything we could out of what we had. We squeezed everything out of one another, and I thought we got stronger and better as the season went on."