The Clippers are hoping to meet with impending star free agent Kawhi Leonard once he hits the open market, but the team has started to consider other options in case he chooses to sign a new contract elsewhere, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
Leonard is currently in the midst of a historic playoff run with Toronto, one that may persuade him to re-sign with the franchise if the Raptors can seal the deal and win their first ever NBA championship.
Los Angeles has long been linked to Leonard and would have the cap space to ink him on a multi-year, maximum-salary deal if he chooses to leave Toronto. However, sources told Vardon that the Clippers have recently spent most of their time during offseason meetings discussing scenarios in which Leonard doesn’t choose to sign with the team.
Leonard, an L.A. native, listed the Clippers as one of his preferred trade destinations before being moved from San Antonio to Toronto last offseason. The Clippers could also choose to pursue Warriors forward Kevin Durant, Celtics guard Kyrie Irving or other stars on the open market, including forward Anthony Davis in a potential trade with the Pelicans.
There’s more from the Pacific Division tonight:
- Warriors guard Klay Thompson said he was roughly 80% healthy when he played in Game 4 on Friday, Matt Schneidman of The Mercury News tweets. As of Sunday, Thompson said he felt around 90% and hopes to be closer to 100% for Monday’s important Game 5.
- Kevon Looney felt “fine” after making his surprise return to Game 4, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, according to Mark Medina of The Mercury News (Twitter link). Looney returned for his team five days after suffering a costal cartilage fracture, displaying his toughness and willingness to sacrifice. He finished with 10 points, six rebounds and one assist in 20 minutes of work.
- Former Suns assistant coach Cody Toppert has reached an agreement to join the Memphis Tigers as an assistant, according to The Athletic’s Michael Scotto (Twitter link). Topper will coach under NBA legend Penny Hardaway, who was hired by the University of Memphis last year. Toppert registered interest from multiple NBA teams but was sold most on Hardaway’s vision for his program, Scotto notes.