Clippers star Kawhi Leonard is quashing rumors of hard feelings between him and LA’s front office as contract extension talks heat up.
The 32-year-old is entering the third year of his $176 million contract signed in 2021.
He has a $48.7 million player option for next year, but if he doesn’t take that he can become an unrestricted free agent.
Leonard was asked about contract extension talks this week and affirmed his desire to stay with the franchise.
“We’re good,” Leonard said, via Tom Azarly. “I came here in 2019 to be a Clipper. Me and the front office are good. …I don’t know what PG [Paul George] said, but as far as the relationship goes between us and the front office it’s been good.”
The Clippers went 11-22 in the regular season and playoffs without Kawhi last season, so his health will paramount in his future in LA.
When asked if an extension can be reached before July, Leonard hesitated with his answer initially, but then said, “I mean, yeah, for sure, it hasn’t been nothing that we been rushing on their side or my side so we’re good, we’re good.”
It makes sense that the front office aren’t rushing to extend Kawhi or his teammate Paul George.
They haven’t been able to win a championship together since playing for the Clippers, mainly due to a host of unfortunate injuries.
Kawhi and PG are both eligible to sign four-year max deals with the team.
But ESPN insider Brian Windhorst said in early August he would be very surprised if that actually materialised.
“I don’t think there’s any chance that those guys get four-year extensions,” Windhorst said. “They both can be free agents after next season because they have player options. There’s no chance that they’re getting extended four years. I would be stunned if they get extended four years. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t get extended, though. And that the Clippers won’t make an offer or even a multi-year offer.”
Another NBA insider, Zach Lowe also said that, “In the event that they asked for an ironclad, four-year max extension apiece, the Clippers were actually prepared to put up a fight.”
Since signing with the Clippers four years ago, the pair have played in just 142 games together.
With rumors of James Harden to the Clippers still swirling and the Knicks rejecting a PG-13 trade offer in July, Kawhi and George’s time in LA is all but guaranteed.