Kawhi Leonard has surprised everyone in the NBA world by announcing a short term deal with the Clippers team. It was expected that Leonard was looking for a longer deal, but it was proved wrong this Wednesday. As the official deal reports were out, it was revealed that Leonard has signed a three-year deal with Clippers for $103 million. Along with that, he has also asked for player option, and the same has been done by his new teammate and friend Paul George.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) July 10, 2019
While it could mean a lot of trouble for the Lakers in the next few years, there is also an interesting connection. The 3-year contract ends in 2021 when LeBron James and league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will also hit the free agency. Most of the rumors are saying that it is a calculated move so that Kawhi Leonard can join the Lakers.
Kawhi Leonard Deal Breakdown
Kawhi Leonard was originally supposed to sign a four-year deal with the Clippers for a sum of $141 million. It would have meant an average salary of $35.5 million per year for Leonard. He could also have re-signed with the Toronto Raptors for $190 million, five-year contract, and thus earning an average of $38 million per year.
Re: Kawhi Leonard contract
The most he could earn with LAC in 2021 (if he does not opt-in) is 4/$196M
Because of early bird rights- Leonard is not eligible to sign a 5/$253M contract.
$221M (SAS) to $190M (TOR) to $141M (LAC) to now $103M (LAC)- has left $118M on the table.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 10, 2019
The reason why Leonard signed for a short deal for less money is that he wanted freedom in future and maximum earnings in the upcoming years. By signing a short term deal, he will have more flexibility and increase his salary to a greater extent. There is a rule called early bird rights by which Leonard can get a five-year deal at $253 million contract money.
Plans for Free Agency 2021
The other reason why Leonard opted for a short term deal is the free agency 2021. The deal between LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will be over by then. As the Lakers are already troubled with the old age of LeBron, there is no way the contract will be extended.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 10, 2019
It will be a perfect time for Kawhi Leonard to leave the Clippers and join the Lakers team as he always wanted to do. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA 2019 MVP and future superstar will also be free from the Milwaukee Bucks team for the free agency. At that time, Leonard, Giannis, and Paul George can all join the Lakers and become the most powerful NBA trio.