An enticing trade proposal has the Los Angeles Clippers dealing superstar Kawhi Leonard to one of their top conference rivals, with another star coming to La La Land as part of the return.
The Clippers are in the fifth year of the Leonard-Paul George era. To date, the superstar duo has only helped the Clippers to three playoff series wins, with the last one coming back in the 2021 Western Conference Semifinals.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 25: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers in the second half at Crypto.com Arena on October 25, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Following an ugly 3-7 start, the Clippers have slowly but surely climbed their way back into the playoff picture. But if their inconsistent play continues leading up to the trade deadline, may the front office look to shake up its core?
At NBA Analysis Network, James Piercey proposed a blockbuster trade idea that has the Clippers dealing Leonard to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Klay Thompson and a 2026 first-round pick:
“When the Clippers acquired Leonard, he was one of the best players in the NBA. Now, we’ve got them flipping him for an expiring contract and one pick…Leonard’s constant injuries have tanked his trade value. This year, he hasn’t quite looked the same even healthy. It feels like Leonard may have the type of career that sees a steep, early decline. Here, we’ve got the Clippers moving him before they can’t get anything for him.
They’re freeing up cap room in the process. Thompson is on an expiring deal. Who knows? Perhaps he’ll thrive in Los Angeles, and the Clippers will improve. Yet, even if not, freeing up some cap space and landing an unprotected first could be worth the price of losing Leonard.”
Leonard’s run with the Clippers has certainly been defined by injuries, but he’s stayed healthy thus far in 2023-24 and is putting together another All-Star-like season. When healthy, the two-way star can still take over a game like few others.
There’s a case to be made that the Clippers would be better off breaking up the Leonard-George duo before they both enter the twilight years of their respective careers. And a future Hall of Famer like Thompson would help keep the Clippers’ competitive window open.
Of course, trading Leonard to a team with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins would also make Golden State the heavy favorites to win the NBA Championship.
The Clippers would be taking a calculated risk by trading him within the division. Then again, the front office certainly won’t be looking to trade any of its stars if the Clippers continue their rapidly improved play.