The Clippers announced today, out of the blue, that they signed Kawhi Leonard to a three-year extension. The Clippers did not disclose terms, but Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania both put the figure at 3 years, $153 with no player option.

This deal keeps Kawhi Leonard out of free agency and on the Clippers through 2027, when he will be 36 years old. As has already been reported, a primary motivating factor for the Clippers – outside of the obvious, that Kawhi is a superstar player when healthy – is that now Kawhi will be on the Clips for the first few seasons at the new Intuit Dome. The Clippers have their face of the franchise locked up.

Kawhi’s deal starts at $52M in 2024-2025, and then goes down to $50M the next two seasons, per Woj. The first number is the full max of the projected salary cap, while the following two would be somewhat below. This, I suppose, was a “concession” from Kawhi probably for age/injury reasons. The Clippers will still be over the cap then, but it probably helps their pockets a bit with lower tax payments.

There has also been reporting that the Clippers are in talks with Paul George on an extension and both sides are interested in a long-term partnership. So far, PG and Kawhi’s deals have been in lockstep. I’d imagine a three-year extension for George at around the same price (hopefully a bit cheaper but whatever, it’s Ballmer’s tax dollars and he can afford it) will get penned at some point in the near future.

On one hand, this deal does contain some risk. Kawhi has had numerous injury issues and the chance he’s both healthy and playing at his current level in 2027 seem remote. There’s a good chance this deal looks like an albatross in two years.

On the other hand, the Clippers have traded their picks and swaps through 2029 anyway, so a rebuild in the near future is simply not in the cards. Additionally, due to Kawhi’s injury history, its unlikely he’d get a massive return in a trade even if he was on a “friendlier” deal.

Really, this made sense for both sides. Kawhi gets security for the last few years of his prime/post-prime and the Clippers keep their superstar player to ensure some level of competence over the next few seasons. Let’s just enjoy the fact we get to watch Kawhi play for the Clippers for several more years.

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