Kawhi Leonard is set to play the 2018-19 NBA season with the Toronto Raptors. But he’s never seemed enthused about playing in Toronto. That said, there’s already plenty of speculation on where he’ll end up in the 2019 offseason.
The 27-year-old demanded a trade out of San Antonio in the offseason. He specifically requested an LA team, but got the Raptors instead. This being the case, it should be no surprise that a report has surfaced stating he’d like to play with the LA Clippers.
Jimmy Butler could be the Key Reason why Kawhi Fancies the Clippers
According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Clippers are drawing interest from both Jimmy Butler and Leonard. The latter seems more interested in joining LA after Butler recently hinted at his desire to play there.
Here’s more from Wojnarowski:
“Leonard and Butler would form a tantalizing tandem.”
Butler has already informed Minnesota that he plans to leave the franchise upon becoming a free agent in the 2019 offseason. He also touted the Clippers, New York Knicks, and Brooklyn Nets as his three preferred landing spots — all three bigger markets.
Leonard, meanwhile, seems to like the Clippers because they’re the less-heralded LA team. This would fit his personality, which isn’t one that prefers the limelight. That said, Butler and Leonard could both play together and each get what they want out of the deal.
Another thing worth mentioning here is that both Butler and Leonard are hard-working competitors. Therefore, Butler is unlikely to run into the same issue with Kawhi as he ran into with his younger Minnesota teammates.
What would the Clippers Look Like with Leonard and Butler?
It’s hard predicting exactly what LA’s roster will look like next season. After all, every team goes through some sort of changes from year to year. But as it is right now, the Clippers have a strong veteran core that includes Avery Bradley, Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams, Tobias Harris, and Danilo Gallinari. They also have lottery picks Jerome Alexander and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Given the assets that LA has, it’s a wonder if they’d simply trade for Butler now rather than wait. Doing so would rob them of assets, but it also reduces the chance that another team can trade for him and convince him to stay.
As for Leonard, it’s likely that the Clippers will simply try to get him through free agency. Toronto already traded a lot for Kawhi, and they’re not open to trade talks for the time being.
2019 LA Clippers Odds
The Clippers have a lot of work to land Butler and Leonard. Assuming they do get these players without losing much in return, then they’d be potential title contenders in the 2019-20 campaign.
As it is now, though, LA has long odds of winning the NBA championship at +20,000. Our GTBets odds also place them at +10,000 of winning the Western Conference in the 2018-19 season.
The problem is that there are no immediate plans in the works to bring aboard Leonard or Butler. This is instead something that the Clips will hope for next offseason.
Therefore, LA will run with a veteran lineup that’s capable, but not exactly championship material. Expect another close run at making the postseason for the Clippers in 2019.