NBA Free Agency 2021: Latest Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan Rumors

Philip LindseyContributor IAugust 2, 2021

NBA Free Agency 2021: Latest Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan Rumors

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    NBA free agency officially kicks off tonight, Aug. 2, at 6 p.m. following an unpredictable post-season.

    Last week, 30 teams made their selections from one of the deepest NBA draft classes in recent memory. Although some of the incoming prospects stand to make an immediate impact, a major signing or blockbuster could completely change the trajectory of a team.

    To that end, the Lakers made a splash on the night of the draft with a reported move that sent Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to Washington in exchange for Russell Westbrook. This could be the first in a string of personnel changes that will shift the playing field this summer.

    Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard just seemingly entered the pool of talent available to sign over the offseason. All eyes will be on the injured star and a pair of old teammates over the next few days as they weigh their options.

Kawhi Leonard Is Expected to Re-Sign with the Clippers

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    In June, the Los Angeles Clippers made their first Western Conference Finals appearance in franchise history without its top star Kawhi Leonard. Now, the two-time NBA champion has a decision to make as he opted out of his $36 million contract to become a free agent.

    ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski suggested that "the expectation is that Leonard will negotiate a new deal to stay with Clippers."

    According to Yahoo Sports, Leonard is eligible for a max deal worth 35 percent of the salary cap, or $39 million, giving him a chance to earn $175 million over the next four years. However, he could stand to make up to $250 million next summer if he re-signs for one year and re-enters free agency when the team would own his full Bird rights

    So, it seems likely that the five-time All-Star would secure a contract with the organization as he prepares to recuperate in hopes to return next year. Then, he could command an even larger salary once he's healthy. This could also give him the opportunity to potentially make another pay push without making a long-term commitment.

    The elite two-player sustained a partial ACL tear during Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, forcing him to miss the remainder of the playoffs. As such, Leonard underwent surgery on his right knee on July 19. The typical recovery time for a Grade II tear means the 30-year-old will be out for the first half of the season, with a return as early as January.

Los Angeles Clippers Have Their Sights Set on DeMar DeRozan

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    In the meantime, the Clippers are reportedly attempting to bring in another All-Star in DeMar DeRozan to bolster their chances of returning to the Western Conference Finals.

    Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times reported that the team president, Lawrence Frank, has an interest in the recent unrestricted free agent. This would give L.A. another scoring option to play alongside Paul George until Leonard returns. DeRozan is also a safe pickup in case the star guard decides not to re-sign.

    The 31-year-old never quite felt like the right fit for San Antonio after his abrupt trade from Toronto. Nevertheless, he had a strong season with the team, averaging 21.6 points and shooting an efficient 49.5 percent from the field. The Compton native also improved as a playmaker, contributing 6.9 assists a game.

    Many expected DeRozan to return to his hometown and join the Lakers, but that seems unlikely as the team finalizes a trade to acquire Russell Westbrook. While the star guard may have taken a pay cut in hopes to help the organization win another championship, it's hard to imagine he would take one drastic enough to fit its salary cap.

    The Clippers could be a solid destination that would still give him a chance to play in Los Angeles. The team has more depth than the Lakers at the moment. DeRozan could give them the missing piece they need to become serious contenders.

Miami Heat Look Acquire Kyle Lowry in a Sign and Trade

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Miami Heat is the top landing spot for Kyle Lowry heading into free agency.

    Wojnarowski reported, "Lowry has long been intrigued with joining Heat star Jimmy Butler and the Miami organization." His sources said, "Miami has maneuvered to have two key elements of a possible sign-and-trade package—guard Goran Dragic and forward Precious Achiuwa—to offer the Raptors once talks can ensue at 6 p.m. ET Monday."

    The six-time All-Star would give the Heat a veteran point guard and an NBA champion to play with Butler. The team could use his presence after a disappointing season following their Cinderella run to the finals in 2020. This could be a move that puts them back on track.

    The organization recently picked up the option for Dragic’s $19.4 million contract. This gives them a great asset when it can enter talks with Toronto or other teams looking for an inexpensive point guard. One has to assume Lowry is hoping to secure a similar contract this summer.

    More to the point, Miami has a tremendous core and an experienced coach. The Heat were just two games away from winning the Larry O'Brien trophy last year. So, it would be an ideal destination if he wants to compete in the East again.