NBA Rumors: Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler Seen Teaming Up On Clippers

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NBA free agency opens on Sunday, and all eyes will be on star free agents like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, and Jimmy Butler, and which teams they might choose.

Now, a new report says two of those top free agents may be playing together on the same team.

According to a free agency roundup by Sam Amick of The Athleticand shared on his Twitter account, there’s some interest in Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler teaming up on the Los Angeles Clippers.

“Sources say one in particular looks increasingly possible: Butler teaming up with Leonard on the Clippers,” Amick wrote in the roundup. “There are strong indications that Leonard is interested in having Butler as a running mate, and it’s the sort of powerful pairing that would certainly vault the Clippers into contention.”

Leonard won the NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors last year and is widely expected to choose between Toronto and the Clippers. Butler is now with the Philadelphia 76ers and has been linked to such teams as the Los Angeles Lakers, the Houston Rockets, and the Brooklyn Nets.

Amick also wrote of Butler that the Rockets are “serious about finding a way” to sign the veteran swingman and that it’s “likely” that Philadelphia would then cooperate with a sign-and-trade rather than lose Butler for nothing.

The Clippers currently have a young nucleus consisting of Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, and Landry Shamet, as well as enough salary cap space to sign two top free agents. The team opened up their space over the course of many years, in part by trading away stars like Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, although the Clippers would have to clear off a slight amount of money in order to obtain a second maximum slot.

Amick’s story also included updates on several other free agents. Durant, who will likely not play next year due to injury, is “focused far more on the Knicks, Nets, and Warriors” than on the Clippers. It also raised the possibility that Leonard could sign a shorter-term deal to stay in Toronto for another run before re-entering free agency next year. Al Horford will hold his free agency meetings in Atlanta, where he formerly played for the Hawks. And Amick also echoed reports that Klay Thompson will likely re-sign with the Warriors if he’s immediately offered a maximum contract, but take meetings with other teams if he’s not.

Free agency opens at 6 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday.