When Kawhi Leonard signed with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2019, his goal was not only to return to his home state but also to win an NBA Championship. Things didn’t go well in his first season as the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 2019-20 playoffs. They’re now down 3-2 in their current first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks. Considering that Leonard has a $36 million player option coming up this offseason, could we see him declining it to go sign elsewhere if the Clippers are eliminated early?
Bovada seems to think that Kawhi Leonard will return with the Clippers for another season in 2021-22 at -800 odds. The fact is that it’s more likely that Los Angeles’ management would trade other players away before letting Leonard walk away for nothing. The 29-year-old made it a goal to come home and win an NBA Championship, so he likely won’t leave until he’s sure that the team can’t improve more than it has.
If the Clippers fail to win a title this year, they’ll need to find better secondary scoring or a legitimate third option to play with Leonard and Paul George. Maybe there’s even a possibility that they trade George to find someone better to play with the two-time Finals MVP.
However, it’s not a guarantee that Kawhi Leonard will accept his player option. If that’s the case, here’s a look at some of the other possible destinations.
NBA Odds: Which Team Will Kawhi Leonard Play With Next Season?
Odds via Bovada as of Thursday, June 3
- Los Angeles Clippers (-800)
- Miami Heat (+300)
- Toronto Raptors (+1600)
- New York Knicks (+3000)
- Boston Celtics (+8000)
- Any Other (+250)
Could Leonard Join the Heat?
At +300 odds, the Miami Heat are the second-likeliest team for Kawhi Leonard to join this offseason. The Heat management structured the team’s contract situation in a way that they would’ve been able to make a play for Giannis Antetokounmpo this offseason if he hit free agency. Considering how he signed an extension with the Milwaukee Bucks, that plan is off of the table. However, signing Leonard would be the next best thing.
With the way that the Bucks easily disposed of the Heat in this season’s playoffs, it’s clear that Miami needs another star to play alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Kawhi Leonard would be perfect for that role. He has the experience and skill to help take the team to the next level, just he did with the Toronto Raptors. Plus, it’s hard not to imagine how great the Heat’s defense could be with Leonard, Adebayo and Butler on the court together. If the two-time Defensive Player of the Year does become a free agent this summer, Miami should do everything it can to lure him to South Beach.
Kawhi Leonard Odds: Raptors Return on the Table
When Leonard left the Raptors, there were a lot of broken hearts. After all, the team had just won the 2018-19 NBA Championship and Toronto had a better on-paper team than Loss Angeles did. The Raptors have even won as many playoff series as the Clippers since Leonard joined his new team. All in all, it seems like ‘The Klaw’ may have made a mistake in leaving Canada.
Nevertheless, Bovada is listing Leonard’s possible Raptors return at +1600 odds. Even after everything that happened, Toronto fans would probably welcome him back to the team. The 2020-21 season was extremely disappointing for the organization as they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13. Bringing Leonard back while adding one or two better centers could bring the Raptors back to being Eastern Conference favorites. It might seem like a longshot but never say never in the NBA.