Clippers' Updated Salary Cap Space After Kawhi Leonard's Reported $176M Contract

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVAugust 12, 2021

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) controls the ball during Game 7 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks Sunday, June 6, 2021, in Los Angeles, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
AP Photo/Ashley Landis

The Los Angeles Clippers secured their future by re-signing free agent Kawhi Leonard, although the move could limit the team financially going forward.

According to Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic, Leonard will make $176.3 million over the four-year deal. Bobby Marks of ESPN provided a further breakdown:

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

The added $39 million in 2021-22 will put the Clippers at over $170 million in total payroll, per Spotrac, well over the $112 million salary cap and $136 million luxury tax threshold.

The Clippers already had a $125 million luxury tax penalty before the latest deal, per Bobby Marks of ESPN, the third-highest mark in the NBA behind the Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets. 

Leonard and Paul George now have similar contracts through the next few years. Both will earn about $39 million next year, with the total rising each year to a $48.8 million player option in 2024-25. 

Marcus Morris Sr. will make $48 million over the next three years combined while Luke Kennard has $41 million remaining on his three-year extension.

It means these four players will account for over $106 million in 2021-22 with a number that will only grow in the following two years of guaranteed deals.

This doesn't leave room for many more high-priced additions, which could especially be a problem next year as Leonard recovers from the torn ACL that knocked him out of the 2021 playoffs.

Reggie Jackson ($10.4 million owed in 2021-22), Ivica Zubac ($7.5 million) and Serge Ibaka ($9.7 million) will play big roles next season as the squad tries to remain a top contender in the Western Conference. The problem is there won't be much room for improvement if the team struggles.

Next offseason also won't provide much cap space for free agents, which could be especially be a concern if Leonard doesn't progress as expected from his knee injury.