For the second straight season, the Los Angeles Clippers were eliminated from the playoffs in disappointing fashion.
When Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers following his NBA title run with the Toronto Raptors, L.A. was expected to be a perennial championship contender. Unfortunately, things haven't quite worked out for Los Angeles' second-favorite team.
Could this be the end of the Klaw's tenure with the Clippers?
As the offseason screams closer and closer, Leonard is expected to opt-out of his $36 million player option with the franchise for next season. That opens the door for Leonard to explore his options as arguably the most-coveted free agent on the market.
Which teams would be leading contenders for Leonard's services? We've highlighted five teams that would be attractive options for the two-time NBA Finals MVP.
Los Angeles Lakers
Salary-cap space be damned, the Lakers will always be a possibility to land Leonard.
The Lakers previously attempted to sign him in free agency, but he bypassed the franchise to join their crosstown rivals in the Clippers. If the scenario presents itself to acquire Leonard, the Lakers will jump at that opportunity. Los Angeles holds the appeal of playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, which Leonard’s presence would make them the clear-cut NBA title favorites.
However, the only question that remains is whether Leonard has any interest in making that move. He didn't two years ago.
Dallas has gone through some significant shuffling around after parting ways with coach Rick Carlisle then hiring Jason Kidd. The team also restructured the front office.
The focus is entirely on building a team that will convince Luka Doncic to stick around for the long haul, and that means finding another running mate for star guard.
Leonard could immediately step in to provide a lethal one-two punch as he and Paul George have been for the Clippers.
New York Knicks
After a promising 2020-21 season, the Knicks are now a much more intriguing landing spot for free agents.
New York will be quite active this upcoming offseason in adding a superstar talent to their young core. Julius Randle has blossomed into a star talent who the franchise can build around. Randle is a bonafide offensive talent who can work well alongside another superstar.
If Leonard wants a complete change of scenery, the Knicks are certainly an appealing destination.
Leonard fits that bill as an elite two-way talent who would fully embrace the Heat's "no-nonsense" culture. Meanwhile, Miami is always looking to build a team that contends for an NBA title, and the two-time NBA champion would push the franchise toward that lofty goal.
It would be a big move for Leonard who is known to have an affinity for the West Coast.
Los Angeles Clippers
Throughout the process, the Clippers will remain Leonard's most likely landing spot.
Keep in mind, the star forward strategically worked behind the scenes to play for Los Angeles. He also holds a significant amount of power and say in matters concerning the team. Meanwhile, the Clippers share a strong mutual interest in retaining him as the centerpiece alongside George for many years to come.
Leonard has everything he wants with the franchise, and it may just be a matter of working out the multi-year contract he wants.
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