NBA

Leonard hopes new deal helps Clippers keep hold of Harden, George

By Sports Desk January 11, 2024

Kawhi Leonard is hopeful that his new deal will help the Los Angeles Clippers keep hold of their other star players.

Leonard, who is enjoying a fine season, has signed a three-year contract extension with the Clippers, reportedly worth $153million.

However, that is less than Leonard was eligible for. The 32-year-old, along with his teammate Paul George, went into the season eligible for a maximum extension of four years, worth $223m, via ESPN.

But Leonard believes taking a hit on this contract will aid the Clippers as they look to keep both George and James Harden, who has impressed since joining Los Angeles in a trade from the Philadelphia Eagles in October. 

After scoring 29 points in a 126-120 win over his old team the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, Leonard told reporters: "With the conversation that I have with them about it, I think for the most part everybody is coming back.

"So with me signing an extension, I think it gives us a chance to sign both of those players."

"It just made sense from both sides," Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said of Leonard's new deal.

"We both wanted the same thing. We wanted Kawhi to be a Clipper for a very long time, and Kawhi wants to be a Clipper for a very long time, and we wanted to put the focus on the team and at the same time it just came together where it just made sense where it was a very fair deal for both sides.

"Kawhi was a great partner. There's harsh penalties for high-spending teams, and Kawhi understood it."

Asked if Leonard's contract extension was an encouraging sign for his own future with the Clippers, George said: "Absolutely. You secure and lock in Kawhi. Definitely leaves the door open for myself, but very, very optimistic something will get done on my behalf, as well."

The Clippers have lost just three of their last 20 games, rising up to fourth in the Western Conference in the process, and coach Tyronn Lue has his sights set firmly on the playoffs.

“I think half of it is great talent, and I think half of it is execution, and we got to be 100 per cent execution with our talent, and that makes for a dangerous team," Lue said.

"When you get to the playoffs it's a whole different animal, and so we've got to start building those habits.

"We're doing it a little bit at a time, but we've got to start progressing a little bit more as far as being better with our execution and what we're trying to do."

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