The Los Angeles Clippers have been trying to pass off a rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers for several years now. While the Clippers have admittedly gotten the better of the Lake Show in the regular season in recent years, they have never been a real rival despite sharing the same building.
The 2019 offseason created a new wrinkle in the dynamic when the Lakers traded for Anthony Davis and the Clippers brought in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. For several weeks, it seemed like Kawhi was going to join the Lakers instead to build a tantalizing big three.
Since then the purple and gold have had more success, winning a championship while the Clippers have made it outside of the second round just once. Now, the Clippers have huge question marks about their future and have even fewer future assets than the Lakers have.
Perhaps the most concerning development for Clippers fans is Kawhi Leonard’s health and inability to stay on the court. The Clips have been limited by Kawhi’s limited health and despite being touted as the best player on the planet just four years ago, his future in LA is potentially up in the air. ESPN’s Ohm Younghusk said on The Lowe Post Podcast that the Clippers are in no rush to extend their superstar forward (h/t Joey Linn, Sports Illustrated).
"“I hear it’s kind of quiet right now. There is no rush on an extension for Kawhi Leonard, and then Paul George will be eligible in September.”"
Clippers’ hesitancy with Kawhi Leonard proves the Lakers dodged a bullet
Does this mean that the Clippers are definitely not going to offer Kawhi an extension? Not at all, there is still a world in which the team looks to save face and gives Kawhi a huge new deal. At that point, it would be one of the worst contracts in the sport.
The entire resistance around Kawhi is around his health and how his body is going to hold up in the future. This has been a recurring storyline dating back to his time with the San Antonio Spurs. Injury-prone players don’t get less injury prone as they enter their mid-30s.
Anthony Davis often gets slack for the time he has missed for the Lakers but he has played more the Leonard has since joining LA. He has also been able to put together a full playoff run, which is something that Leonard has not been able to do.
Would a big three of LeBron, AD and Kawhi been excellent? Absolutely. But the team would have committed just about everything to these three players and as we have seen in the last four years, Leonard has not been the most reliable player.
Every Lakers fan will take actually winning a championship over signing Leonard. Every Lakers fan should also hope that the Clippers do extend Leonard as that will seriously hurt their future.