We Should Be Calling Kawhi Leonard “Street Clothes” Instead Of Anthony Davis | $50M Per Year Doesn’t Guarantee He Plays When Team Needs Him Most

When the Los Angeles Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George prior to the 2019-2020 season the belief was Tinseltown’s other team would finally overtake the Los Angeles Lakers.

That’s been anything but the case as the Clippers have only advanced to the Western Conference Finals once. While the Lakers have also experienced moderate success, they did win the NBA championship in the 2020 “NBA bubble.”

Street Clothes Kawhi

A huge reason as to why the Clippers haven’t been able to get over the hump has been the lack of availability from Leonard, their franchise player.

Leonard, the two-time NBA Finals MVP, once with the Spurs and once with the Raptors, just hasn’t been available when his team has needed him most in the postseason. That’s exactly the case right now with his team facing elimination following a 124-94 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of their first-round playoff matchup. It was the franchise’s worst playoff loss, and one that came at the most inopportune time, with Leonard once again nowhere to be found. 

When Is Kawhi Coming Back ?

Prior to the Game 5 beatdown, head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters, “We’re not sure when he’s coming back. It’s a day-to-day thing, and when he’s feeling good and medical says he’s clear to go, that’s what we’ll do.”

Leonard Should Be Called Street Clothes, Not Anthony Davis

For years Lakers superstar Anthony Davis has been the brunt of jokes concerning his health and missing games. Davis even garnered the nickname “Street Clothes.” But in the past two seasons Davis has played 132 of a possible 164 games, including a career-high 76 games this season. Davis was available for all five of the Lakers’ playoff games, just as he was available for all 16 of their playoff games a season ago. 

Can’t say the same for Leonard, who despite playing in a career-high 68 games this season, has been rendered useless in the playoffs (knee injury). It’s the third time in his five seasons with the Clippers that he’s been unavailable for his team in the postseason. While some of Leonard’s regular season absences are of the load management variety, he just hasn’t been there for coach Tyronn Lue and his teammates.

Leonard/George Duo Has Underachieved Mightily

As of now the Kawhi Leonard/Paul George pairing can he considered a failure, and it’s highly plausible they flame out in six games to the Mavericks despite adding James Harden to this year’s squad.

What makes matters even worse is they traded away any draft capital for the future in getting Harden when they probably should’ve cut their losses and traded Leonard and/or George.

Leonard’s 3-Year/$152M Extension Looks Awful

With Leonard scheduled to miss Friday’s do-or-die Game 6, it’ll be his 14th missed playoff game in five seasons in L.A. Despite Leonard’s lack of availability, in January the Clippers handed him a three-year, $152 million extension.

The extension coincides with the team moving into their spanking-new arena which is adjacent to SoFi Stadium home of the Rams and Chargers. 

As of now, that deal looks bad with Leonard getting older and the injuries to his knees continuing to mount. Trading him is likely off the table now, given his injury history and the huge extension he just signed, meaning owner Steve Ballmer is likely stuck with the man formerly known as “The Klaw.”

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