Kawhi Leonard revealed that part of the reason why he signed a four-year max contract with the Los Angeles Clippers this offseason is because he hopes to return at some point this season. Leonard underwent surgery on July 13th to repair a partially torn right ACL.
“Because I wanted to play,” Leonard explained of his decision at the team’s media day on Monday. “I mean, the best situation for me was to do it one-and-one and then opt out and sign a long-term five-year deal. But there’s a lot of concerns that that brings up for you guys and your job, and it creates storylines that I’m going to leave the team [after one year].
“I wanted to secure some money, and I wanted to be able to come back if I was able to this year. If I would have took the one-and-one, I probably would have not played [this season] just to be cautious and opted out and took a five-year.”
Lawrence Frank said last week that “we don’t even breach that” when asked if he anticipates Leonard being able to play this season.
“It’s just, no one knows when you’re dealing with a recovery from an ACL [injury], the time frame,” Frank said.
As a free agent, Leonard could have signed a two-year, $82 million deal with a player option in 2022-23 and become a free agent again in 2022, which would have made him eligible to sign a five-year, $235 million max contract with the Clippers.
Leonard said staying with the Clippers was never in doubt and now the question is when he can return.
“Just day-to-day,” Leonard said. “Just working with the staff day-to-day, and then when that available date comes, we’ll be ready for it, and it’ll be out in the public.”