LA Clippers fans will be distraught after it was announced on Wednesday that their talisman, Kawhi Leonard, may have injured his ACL and would be out indefinitely. Co-star Paul George stepped up with 37 points to rescue a road win for the Clippers, who now host the Utah Jazz at home in Game 6 on Friday, needing one more win to advance to the NBA Western Conference Finals.
Despite the impressive victory, attention remains on the small forward, who was having a historically efficient playoff run until the injury. His future with the franchise was already on tenterhooks should they not reach the Conference Finals, but it is now unclear what could happen to Kawhi Leonard in the offseason.
In this article, we will examine what the 29-year-old can do in the summer and what his current contract is with the LA Clippers.
What will happen to the LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard this summer?
Kawhi Leonard has been an integral part of the LA Clippers in the two years he has spent with the franchise. The two-time NBA champion was on a mission to take them to their first NBA Finals before picking up an injury in Game 4 on Monday. Leonard was averaging 30 points a game in the playoffs and was lethal from the field, connecting with over 57% of efforts.
With him out, the Clippers continue to face an uphill battle and will struggle in the Conference Finals should they advance. There was speculation that if they were to falter in the postseason, Leonard may leave the franchise by declining his player option and entering the free agency market. 'The Klaw' is currently at the end of the second year of a three-year deal with the side and may choose not to re-sign.
"I think Kawhi Leonard is staying with the Clippers. I don't think he has said that publicly, probably won't till the day he signs his contract. I know there is some mention of Miami. I think he is where he wants to be geographically. I think he is liked. He is got along very well with the new organization, with management, with ownership."
Although Kawhi Leonard could leave at the end of the season, the chances of that happening appear fairly slim at the moment. If his injury is severe, it would certainly put sides off trading for him. Not only that, but Leonard would then prefer to rehab with the LA Clippers while receiving the salary for his contract's final year.
Returning to California was a big reason for Kawhi Leonard signing with the LA Clippers and they have a strong side around him. No team was more accurate from 3-point range this season, while only the Brooklyn Nets had a more efficient offense. Paul George is tied to the franchise for a number of years and Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris and Terance Mann have all proven themselves in the playoffs.
Despite all this, Kawhi Leonard could still have his head turned by another side if he felt the championship hopes were better there. He is an elite two-way All-Star who could carry any team through the postseason.
We will be sure to keep you updated on Kawhi Leonard's ongoing injury status, which could affect his upcoming decision with the LA Clippers.