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Kawhi Leonard, Clippers Agree to Reported 4-Year, $176.3M Contract in Free Agency

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IV

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 14: Head Coach Tyronn Lue of the Los Angeles Clippers hi-fives Kawhi Leonard #2 during Round 2, Game 4 of 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 14, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Kawhi Leonard signed a reported four-year, $176.3 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports and Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. 

The pact includes a player option for the final year. 

Ian Begley of SNY reported Leonard's deal includes a trade kicker:

Ian Begley @IanBegley

In addition to a player option in the final season, Kawhi Leonard’s new 4-year, $176.2M deal with the Clippers contains a 15 percent trade kicker.

Leonard was one of the biggest potential free agents this offseason, though the expectation was he would return to the Clippers. The question was whether he would pick up his $36 million player option for the 2021-22 season.

While he declined his option and hit the open market, there was an argument that picking it up might have made sense, as it would have allowed him to sign a five-year, $235 million deal next offseason. 

Or, as ESPN's Bobby Marks noted, he could have opted in this year and immediately signed a four-year extension off that:

Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42

Here is the breakdown on the $176.3M contract for Kawhi Leonard:<br><br>21/22- $39.34M<br>22/23- $42.49M<br>23/24- $45.64M<br>24/25- $48.78M (Player)<br><br>Leonard could have signed a four-year $187M extension if he had opted-in to his $36M contract in 2021/22. <br><br>Total would have been $223M

With Leonard potentially missing the entirety, or majority, of the 2021-22 season while recovering from a torn ACL, he took the short-term pay bump and the long-term security of a four-year deal. Regardless of how he got paid, there's no question he just landed huge money. 

He's earned it. The 30-year-old averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season, shooting 51.2 percent from the field, 39.8 percent from three and 88.5 percent from the charity stripe, just missing the illustrious 50-40-90 club. He remains arguably the NBA's best two-way player as a smothering defender who was an All-Star, first-team All-NBA selection and second-team All-Defensive pick last year. 

Leonard and Paul George haven't led the Clippers to a title in their first two seasons together, though there's an argument that if Leonard hadn't torn his ACL in last year's postseason, they might have done so. 

But he'll have at least three, and potentially four, more seasons with the Clippers to accomplish that goal.