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The lengthy list of teams that will be looking to get in on the pursuit of Kawhi Leonard should the San Antonio Spurs decide to move him will include the Los Angeles Clippers, according to Sam Amick of USA Today.
Amick speculated the Clippers would be willing to include both first-round picks in the upcoming draft (their own, as well as the Pistons’ if it lands outside of the top four), along with whatever else is necessary to land Leonard, a two-time first-team All-NBA performer.
Clippers consultant Jerry West is known to be a big fan of Leonard, who was raised in Moreno Valley, near Los Angeles. Adding Leonard would soften the blow of the Clippers trading away Chris Paul last summer and Blake Griffin during this season. Center DeAndre Jordan is headed toward unrestricted free agency this summer.
The speculation surrounding Leonard’s future was amped up even more when he was not with the team for the Spurs’ 113-92 loss at Golden State in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series Saturday afternoon.
Our own Sam Amico reported in early April that the Cleveland Cavaliers are keeping a close eye on Leonard’s situation with the Spurs.
Leonard has played in only nine games for San Antonio this season because of a right quadriceps injury. He recently made his second trip of the season to New York to be checked by her personal physicians regarding the injury.
Spur Pau Gasol said San Antonio players haven’t seen their teammate in several weeks.
Leonard will be eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension this summer that would pay him $219 million over five seasons. He can opt out of his current deal and become a free agent in 2019, so the Spurs may decide the relationship with their star is beyond repair and opt to move him if they can’t work out an extension.
Amick noted Leonard has remained in contact with several teammates and texted at least one of them Saturday morning, but his absence added flames to the fire that the idea that his behind-the-scenes relationship with the organization isn’t good.
While Steph Curry, sidelined by a knee injury, was sitting behind his teammates and cheering them on during Game 1 at Oracle Arena, Leonard’s absence provided a stark contrast.