The Cavaliers just beat the Warriors in six games and have now made the NBA Finals in consecutive seasons. They are the first team to accomplish that since the Lakers in the 1980s and the first to do it since the Bulls did it in the 1990s. If you want to believe the Cavs are now the best team in the NBA, you can. Maybe LeBron James will be able to lead them to more rings than Jordan and Bryant did.
In truth, the Cavs are in a position they never expected to be in. Besides the “best team ever” narrative, the Cavs are in a position of power. Financially, the Lakers are in a position to pay what they feel they must and the Cavs are more than happy to take it. They’d rather have a LeBron-less Cavs than a James-filled Lakers. After all, just because Cavs fans think LeBron is a “clown” doesn’t mean some of the NBA’s other owners believe it.
After a week on the bench, LeBron James returned to the lineup and led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a come-from-behind victory over the Utah Jazz. The Cavs were down by 17 points and down by three with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, but James’s offense and defense were enough to see the Cavs home. The win, coupled with the Bulls’ loss to the Magic, put the Cavs in a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference.
While rumors suggest that Leonard, Kawhi will stay with the Los Angeles Clippers, the brilliant but fractious two-time NBA Finals MVP is facing criticism for prolonging his free agency process. Leonard opted out of the last year of his contract with the Clippers, which he signed in 2019. Los Angeles was the favored to keep him.
However, while other free agents left the market as soon as the negotiation season began on Aug. 2, Leonard lingered. It’s similar to what he accomplished last year as one of the last high-profile free agents to sign. Some NBA fans are perplexed as to why Leonard is given a free pass but other players are not.
The free agency of Kawhi Leonard in 2019 tangled up many clubs.
When Kawhi Leonard’s contract with the Toronto Raptors ended in 2019, he was the reigning Finals MVP. While superstar free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving picked the Brooklyn Nets right away, Jimmy Butler chose Miami, and Kemba Walker chose Boston, Leonard took his time.
He spoke with both LA clubs and listened to their pitches. Leonard remained motionless for days. Leonard’s commitment to the Clippers didn’t come until July 6, 2019. They were only able to get it by agreeing to buy Paul George.
In the case of the Raptors, part of the talent loss occurred as a result of Masai Ujiri, the team’s president of basketball operations, keeping his powder dry. However, the market dried up as he waited for a train that never arrived. The Lakers will be able to recover from this predicament. That is not an option in Toronto.
Kendrick Perkins slams the brakes on Leonard.
Russell Westbrook was allegedly influenced by Kawhi Leonard in 2019. Leonard, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, set two LA locals against one other. He approached Russell Westbrook about joining the Clippers. Then he said he’d rather play with George.
ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins put Leonard on full fire.
“Kawhi Leonard is a stone thrower who keeps his hand hidden. We’ve been letting him off the hook for far too long, and he’s the person that goes unnoticed and does shady things. We don’t address it just because he’s Kawhi Leonard.
“With him and Russell Westbrook, we’re looking at this scenario. This is meant to be a buddy; it’s a private discussion. You don’t utilize this information or disregard this brother’s call in order to entice Paul George to join the Clippers. Allow LeBron James to do things like that, and keep an eye on him. People are rushing to (the media) to assassinate him.”
In 2017–18, Leonard was chastised for claiming that his quad injury was too serious for him to play for the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio traded Leonard to the Raptors the next summer after he only played in nine games.
Horry, Robert, a seven-time NBA champion, agreed with Perkins for a different reason, according to ESPN’s The Jump.
“As a Clipper fan, I’d be furious at Kawhi. It is not fair to the organization for him to sit back and wait to see what other players are receiving and what he wants to do.”
Using other NBA players to string together teams is not a good look for The Claw.
The Clippers have decided to retain Kawhi Leonard, but only on a temporary basis.
On June 6, 2021, Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers reacts after scoring in the second half of game seven of the Western Conference first round against the Dallas Mavericks. | Getty Images/Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News
Kawhi Leonard has agreed to return to the Clippers, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The parties were still working out the details. Leonard made his choice on the fifth day of the free agency period, just as the ban on signing formal agreements had ended.
At this point, he’s at least partly ruined. In July, Leonard had surgery to repair a partly torn ACL. Without a date for his return, it’s safe to assume he’ll be sidelined for at least part of next season.
In the meanwhile, the Clippers have enjoyed a relatively quiet free agency offseason thus far. They did agree to re-sign veteran Nicolas Batum, and they have allegedly reached an agreement to retain Reggie Jackson, who had a breakout playoff season.
Leonard is without a doubt one of the best two-way players in the NBA. He’s a two-time Defensive Player of the Year who’s also been named to seven All-Defensive teams and five All-NBA teams in his 10-year career.
But, particularly in light of recent allegations, he gives off a “me-first” attitude. Kawhi Leonard constantly lacks availability, which is a key quality for an athlete. Perkins is absolutely correct. If this were LeBron James, the response would be quite different.
Basketball Reference provided the historical data.
RELATED: Kawhi Leonard Laughably Turned Down Russell Westbrook and Immediately Called Paul George About Teaming Up With The Clippers
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