Kawhi Leonard turned down his player option on Sunday in order to become an unrestricted free agent, and while he appears unlikely to leave the Clippers, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (video link) hears that the star forward is willing to listen to other teams’ pitches.
“I don’t expect this to be a day-one signing. I don’t expect this to be hashed out day one,” Haynes said, noting that Leonard’s last free agency in 2019 dragged out for the better part of a week.
Haynes cautions that he doesn’t expect Kawhi’s free agent process to last as long as it did last time and reiterates that a return to the Clippers is the most likely outcome, which Sam Amick of The Athletic confirms.
According to Amick, Clippers sources are conveying a “high level of confidence” that Leonard will be back on a new contract and are operating as if he’ll be on the roster. Kawhi attended more workouts for draft prospects this offseason than he had in the past and has been in frequent communication with the Clippers’ staff, Amick adds, which are both positive signs that he anticipates a future in Los Angeles.
If Leonard does open up his free agency to rival teams, the Mavericks are among the clubs expected to kick the tires.
Leonard ranks atop our top 50 free agents for 2021 despite having recently undergone surgery to repair a partial tear of his right ACL.