Before the Clippers beat the Suns on Monday night, Stephen A. Smith launched one of his hottest games in the 2021 NBA playoffs.
He thinks the Clippers no longer need Kawhi Leonard.
Yes, Smith did say that.
“I don’t know if it’s in the Clippers’ best interest to keep him [Kawhi Leonard]”Smith said. “No one has said that, so I will be the first to say that. “
In Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals without Leonard, the Clippers may beat the Suns by a 116-102 advantage, but of course, they would rather let him play.
So why does Smith think Los Angeles would be better without him? This has to do with Leonard’s availability and personality.
Let me be clear. Kawhi Leonard is the top five geniuses in this game. He is an elite. But when you consider load management, when you consider that his personality is not actually leaning towards leadership-he is more like a “see me” person, rather than really inspiring the troops and becoming a talker- Then you combine it with the fact that he is not necessarily reliable, at least in this playoffs. He hasn’t gotten younger, or what you have. You look at Terenceman’s height, this second-year player, he is obviously not at the level of Kawhi, but if you look at his athletic ability, young, enthusiastic, and “want it” mentality of playing day and night, You are talking about building a culture, then I’m sorry.I think this is [Steve] Ballmer and the crew must consider the long-term.
Smith’s argument had some truth, but he eventually destroyed it.
The NBA is a star-driven league, and Smith admitted that Leonard is one of the five best players in the game. The team will never give up such talents to build a culture, unless they are ready for a large-scale reconstruction.
The Clippers are not ready yet. They are in a win-win mode. Paul George and Rajon Rondo, Marcus Morris and Patrick Beverley and other veterans are all on the list.
Therefore, leaving Leonard—he averaged 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 2.1 steals in the first 11 games of the playoffs—will make no sense.
In other words, Leonard can move on from the Clippers. He has player options for the 2021-22 NBA season, so he can opt out if he wants to.
However, no matter what Smith said, the Clippers will do everything they can to keep him.