On First Take, Stephen A. Smith recently hinted at Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler having quite a strong relationship. So strong, in fact, that Miami could be going under the radar as a potential landing spot for Leonard in the offseason.
Stephen A. said that Kawhi and Jimmy’s relationship is “pretty damn good.” Would this be enough to draw Kawhi to Miami this summer? Nobody can say.
Kawhi’s choices regarding free agency have been historically hard to predict as virtually nobody knows what’s on his mind. Two years ago, he chose the Clippers in free agency while people speculated whether he would end up with the Clipper, Lakers, or Raptors right up until his decision.
The popular opinion is that he’s happy in L.A. and will stay put with the Clippers. This makes sense as, for a long time, that was his ideal landing spot. This is because he grew up in L.A. and has a close connection to San Diego, which is close by.
The comments from Stephen A. seem a little off the cuff and could mean nothing. But if there is, in fact, a close relationship between Kawhi and Jimmy, that is significant. When Kawhi came to the Clippers, he also orchestrated a move that would allow a friend of his, Paul George, to come and join him on the Clippers.
Also, the current Clippers playoff run will no doubt play a role in his decision. Kawhi has always valued winning in the past. If the Clippers flame out in the playoffs again this year, he may decide to leave. He’s set to make $36 million next year, which would be the final of his 3 year deal with the Clippers. But because this is a player option, he could decline and hit unrestricted free agency this summer.
The Clippers head into game 2 of their series against the Mavericks Tuesday night down 1-0. It’s on them to come back and avoid another playoff disappointment. These recent comments from Stephen A. add more tension to an already heavily scrutinized situation.