Clippers Rumors: Kawhi Leonard 'Privately Clamored' for LA to Acquire a PG

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers' Patrick Beverley celebrates with Kawhi Leonard, right, during the team's NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)
Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers' supporting cast around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will likely see some major changes this offseason. If Leonard gets his way, the revamped roster will include a new point guard.

"They clearly need a point guard," Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN's First Take. "Everybody knows it, and Kawhi Leonard privately has clamored for one.

"It's not that he wants them to get rid of Patrick Beverley, but Patrick Beverley is basically a defensive ace who's small and has to play opposing guards. So they need a point guard that can run a team and can shoot."

                  

Beverley started in 58 of his 59 appearances during the 2019-20 season (regular season and playoffs) and has spent most of his NBA career in the starting lineup. However, his first five seasons came alongside James Harden, who nominally played the point guard role in the Houston Rockets offense.

The Clippers have eschewed the traditional point guard role over the past three seasons. Beverley is not a natural distributor in the halfcourt, averaging just 3.5 assists for his career. Sixth man Lou Williams led the Clippers in assists last season at 5.6 per game, and the team assisted on the seventh-fewest of its baskets during the regular season.

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The low assist percentage is not always a harbinger for bad play. The Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder, all playoff teams, had the NBA's lowest assist rates. Six of the bottom seven made the postseason.

However, Leonard has spent most of his career in offenses that successfully whip the ball around the court. The Spurs had some of the best ball movement in NBA history during their Finals runs, and Leonard thrived with Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet during his lone season as a Toronto Raptor.

VanVleet is a free agent this offseason, but the Clippers don't have enough financial maneuverability to get remotely in his price range, barring a sign-and-trade agreement. The free-agent market elsewhere does not have much in the way of traditional help unless the team coaxes Rajon Rondo to cross rival streams.

If the Clippers acquire a point guard this offseason, it will almost certainly have to come via trade.