Kawhi Leonard re-signs with Clippers on a four-year contract
It’s official: Kawhi Leonard wants to run it back. Leonard will be staying with the Clippers on a four-year deal, with the final year as a player option, per reporting from Chris Haynes. The maximum Leonard could sign for was $176 million over the four seasons.
BREAKING: All-NBA star Kawhi Leonard and Los Angeles Clippers have reached agreement and he has signed a new four-year contract that includes a player option, solidifying the star’s future with the team, league sources tell @YahooSports. https://t.co/Cjq5MfX1pF
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 12, 2021
This move was expected by many, especially when it was reported that his season-ending injury against the Utah Jazz was a partial ACL tear. The Clippers’ efforts to re-sign Leonard were not completely without incident, though. Skip Bayless suggested that Leonard’s camp was not happy with the Clippers’ training staff who were tasked with rehabbing his ACL tear, potentially leading to a repeat of the 2018 San Antonio Spurs. This signing helps dispel those rumors, demonstrating Leonard’s confidence in the Clippers’ training staff to bring the two-way star back to his playoff form.
To call this signing the main priority for the Clippers is an understatement. Leonard’s regular-season averages brought a career-high in assists and minutes, as well as a near-career high in field-goal percentage. His playoff performance was even more remarkable, helping bring the Clippers to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history, winning elimination games against Dallas almost single-handedly. He offers an elite two-way versatility that is rare in today’s league, being able to switch onto any player on any given defensive possession while also offering an elite scoring prowess that few can match. The pairing of Leonard with Paul George was impressive when compared to their lackluster 2020 performance, with schematic changes and better chemistry making the fit even smoother.
It’s hard to view the Clippers as championship contenders without Kawhi Leonard. By signing him, however, the Clippers will remain a competitive team in the west. This will allow the team to continue building off of franchise “firsts”, including acquiring the most coveted “first”: a championship.
Kawhi Anthony Leonard (/kəˈwaɪ/, born June 29, 1991) is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played two seasons of college basketball for the San Diego State Aztecs and was named a consensus second-team All-American as a sophomore. Leonard opted to forgo his final two seasons at San Diego State to enter the 2011 NBA draft. He was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 15th overall pick before being traded to the San Antonio Spurs on draft night.
With the Spurs, Leonard won an NBA championship in 2014, where he was named the Finals Most Valuable Player. After seven seasons with the Spurs, Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors in 2018. In 2019, he led the Raptors to their first NBA championship in franchise history and won his second Finals MVP award (one of only three players to win Finals MVP with multiple teams, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James). He subsequently moved to his hometown of Los Angeles and signed with the Clippers as a free agent in July 2019.
Leonard is a five-time All-Star with three All-NBA First Team selections. Nicknamed the “Claw”, or “Klaw”, for his ball-hawking skills, he has earned seven All-Defensive Team selections and won Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2015 and 2016.
Awards and honors
- 2-time NBA champion: 2014, 2019
- 2-time NBA Finals MVP: 2014, 2019
- 5-time NBA All-Star: 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021
- 1-time NBA All-Star MVP: 2020
- 5-time All-NBA:
- 2-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year: 2015, 2016
- 7-time All-Defensive Selection:
- NBA All-Rookie First Team: 2012
- NBA steals leader: 2015
- Consensus second team All-American (2011)
- NABC All-American Third Team (2011)
- 2× First-team All-Mountain West (2010–2011)
- 2× All-Mountain West All-Tournament Team (2010–2011)
- All-Mountain West Defensive Team (2011)
- Mountain West Tournament MVP (2010)
- Mountain West Freshman of the Year (2010)
- High school
- California Mr. Basketball (2009)
- Martin Luther King Hall of Fame (class of 2018)
Leonard is the son of Mark Leonard and Kim Robertson. He is the youngest child of the family and has four sisters. His father was shot and killed on January 18, 2008, at the Compton car wash he owned. Leonard insisted on playing the next evening and broke down emotionally after the game. As of 2021, the murderer had still not been found. Leonard is the cousin of American football wide receiver Stevie Johnson.
Leonard and his girlfriend have two children.
In 2018, Leonard reportedly signed a multi-year endorsement deal with New Balance, the multinational sports footwear and apparel corporation. He had previously signed with Air Jordan brand, a subsidiary of Nike. In June 2019, Leonard filed a federal lawsuit against Nike. According to the lawsuit, Nike copyrighted Leonard’s “Klaw” logo without his consent.
In January 2020, after the death of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash, Leonard revealed that he and Bryant shared the same pilot, Ara Zobayan, who also perished in the crash along with Bryant and seven others.
Leonard is known for his quiet and private demeanor. He rarely gives interviews and avoids questions about his private life. Leonard has also said that he does not actively consume news media or use social media.
In 2021, Leonard starred in a new Hyundai Motor Company TV commercial advert to promote the Hyundai Tucson.
On May 3, 2021, Leonard took to Instagram Live for the first time ever, chatting with high school basketball player Mikey Williams and announced that he will release a hip hop album titled Culture Jam sometime in 2021. Leonard described the project as “merging hip-hop and basketball together”. He also shared a snippet of a track titled “Everything Different” featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again and Rod Wave. The album will benefit a charitable organization created in memory of Kobe and Gigi Bryant. On July 23, 2021, he released the songs “Waves” and “Everything Different”.
Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard signs new 4-year deal including player option
Kawhi Leonard signed a new four-year contract with the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, including a player option, solidifying the star’s future with the team, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The deal is worth $176.3 million.
The five-time All-Star forward decided to return to his hometown team last week. Over two seasons in Los Angeles, Leonard averaged 26 points, 6.8 rebounds and five assists per game.
Last season, the two-time NBA Finals MVP averaged 24.8 points per game (on 51/40/89 shooting splits) over 34.1 minutes per game before suffering an ACL injury in the Western Conference semifinals. Without Leonard, the Clippers advanced to the Western Conference finals where they lost to the Phoenix Suns in six games.
In the offseason, Leonard had surgery on his partially torn right ACL. There is no timetable for his return, and he is expected to miss a substantial portion of the 2021-22 season.
When Leonard declined his $36 million option to enter free agency, it was expected that he would remain with the Clippers paired with Paul George. George joined Leonard in LA two summers ago and signed a maximum contract extension before the 2020-21 season.