The Clippers may not be the Los Angeles team that succeeded to sign the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James, in the last free agency, but they, in no doubt, showed a better performance in the 2018-19 NBA season. Despite trading Tobias Harris to the Philadelphia 76ers before the February NBA trade deadline, the Clippers still finished as the No. 8 seed in the deep Western Conference and gave the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, a tough fight in the first round of the NBA Playoffs 2019.
The Clippers’ rise to stardom has just begun as they will be having the opportunity to build a roster that can legitimately contend for the NBA championship title in the summer of 2019. The Clippers will be heading into the 2019 NBA free agency, having enough salary cap space to offer a max contract to incoming free agent superstars where one of their top targets is Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors. Leonard and the Raptors are still competing in the NBA Playoffs 2019, but according to Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer, the Clippers have the “upper hand” in the pursuit of “The Claw” next July.
“The Clippers will be able to free up cap space for two max free agents this summer, and they’ve been linked to Kawhi Leonard all season long. Leonard, of course, is still playing in Toronto, where the Raptors are hoping he can lead them to the Finals and maybe stick around long term. By all accounts, Los Angeles seems to have the upper hand, but he’s not the only free agent the Clippers will be going after. Los Angeles will likely try to sign everyone from Kevin Durant to Kyrie Irving to Kemba Walker.”
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) May 1, 2019
When he demanded a trade from the San Antonio Spurs last summer, Kawhi Leonard has reportedly informed interested teams that he would only be signing with his hometown team when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the 2019 NBA offseason. During that time, the Lakers emerged as the top landing spot for Leonard in free agency. However, there were rumors that the All-Star forward isn’t interested in teaming up with LeBron James, making the Clippers more likely to be his next destination than the Lakers.
As Uggetti noted, the Clippers have established themselves as an appealing free agency destination. They have a promising young core, a championship coach in Doc Rivers, and stable ownership. After giving Kawhi Leonard a max contract, the Clippers will still have enough salary cap space to chase the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, and Klay Thompson in the free agency market.