Report: Kawhi Leonard Will Re-Sign with Clippers After Declining Contract Option

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 07: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers moves the ball against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on February 07, 2021 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. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

The doomsday scenario didn't come to fruition for the Los Angeles Clippers, as Kawhi Leonard will reportedly re-sign with the franchise.

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Friday the "terms are being discussed" but that Leonard won't leave in free agency.

Haynes had reported Sunday the five-time All-Star was expected to turn down his $36 million player option for next season. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN added that "the expectation is that Leonard will negotiate a new deal to stay with Clippers."

Paul George is set to start his four-year, $176.3 million extension, but losing Leonard would have been nothing short of a disaster for the Clippers. They mortgaged their future to bring him into the fold and would have had little to show for his brief time with the franchise.

Los Angeles basically had no choice but to throw as much money as it could Leonard's way, but that's not to say this move will be without risk once it's finalized.

The 30-year-old put together another solid regular season in 2020-21, averaging 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game while shooting 51.2 percent from the field, the second-highest mark of his career.

During the playoffs, he looked like the player who won the Finals MVP award with the Toronto Raptors in 2019. The 6'7" forward had two 40-point outings in the first round against the Dallas Mavericks and 65 combined points in Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Utah Jazz.

But he missed the final two games of that series and the entirety of the West finals with a right knee injury. He later underwent surgery for a torn ACL, raising questions about next season and beyond.

Kevin Durant missed one season after rupturing his right Achilles tendon in the 2019 Finals and returned to form in 2020-21.

Perhaps Leonard can rebound in a similar fashion, but Los Angeles is still potentially facing a lost season in 2021-22 if he misses most or all of the campaign.

From a durability perspective, Leonard isn't Durant, either. Since making just nine appearances in 2017-18 because of a right quad injury, he has been one of the stars most associated with the trend of load management.

The NBA stated in November 2019 the Clippers "reasonably determined that Leonard is suffering from an ongoing injury to the patella tendon in his left knee." As a result, Los Angeles was careful in managing his workload.

The ACL injury was to his other knee, but the cause for concern is obvious.

By getting a commitment from Leonard, though, the Clippers resolved their biggest piece of business for this offseason. Until he's back on the court, however, the organization's future will remain cloudy.