KEY POINTS

  • Kawhi Leonard declines his player option but is still expected to return to the Clippers
  • NBA teams are likely to try and pry Leonard away from the Clippers
  • Leonard is still expected to get a long-term deal with the Clippers

A lot of big names are expected to make important decisions as NBA free agency is set to get underway.

However, some superstars did not bother to wait for the final buzzer such as Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard declined his $36 million player option and will become an unrestricted free agent, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported.

For people who have not followed the two-time NBA champion, the initial thing that comes to mind is that he may be moving somewhere else. However, there is more to it.

For some, the move would be a bit strange considering Leonard could have gotten a four-year extension worth slightly more at $181 million.

By opting out, he will be getting instead a starting salary that would be 35% of the salary cap or at least $39 million annually for up to four years.

Regardless, the key thing to watch here is what Leonard has in his mind. The belief is that he will stay with the Clippers.

However, that is subject to change given that the five-time All-Star has been known to stay mum on his career decisions.

So until the Clippers and Leonard seal a deal, anything can happen. But there are concerns as well.

Most know that Leonard sat out the latter part of the playoffs with a knee sprain he suffered in the series against the Utah Jazz.

Furthermore, he underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his ACL in the right knee in July. He is expected to need at least three months for it to heal.

Kawhi Clippers Kawhi Leonard wearing LA Clippers alternate away jersey Photo: Medium.com

Despite questions on whether NBA fans would see the same Kawhi Leonard next season, it remains that he is still a superstar most would not dare pass up.

But the consensus right now is that he is staying with the Clippers.

Until that is made official, expect trade rumors to surface. Teams may try to pitch something and anything is possible depending on what other ball clubs may dangle.