Los Angeles Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard has some decisions to make. The two-time NBA Finals MVP declined his $36-million player option for the 2021-22 season this week, becoming an unrestricted free agent for the second time in his career.
And while it has been widely reported that Leonard will return to the Clippers with a new deal in place, another disappointing end to the season for L.A. has the basketball world wondering if the 30-year-old star might want to take his talents elsewhere.
Read below to find out what teams might be the best bets to land Leonard’s services this season.
Kawhi Leonard Free Agency Odds (Next Team If Not The Clippers)
|New York Knicks||+200|
|Golden State Warriors||+300|
Odds as of August 4 at BetOnline Sportsbook
New York Knicks (+200)
Though they don’t have the most attractive roster of the teams that might interest Kawhi, the New York Knicks entered the offseason with a ton of cap space and assets that give them the flexibility to add more than one superstar this offseason.
Guard Kemba Walker has agreed to sign with the team after being bought out in Oklahoma City, but is a team built around Walker, Derrick Rose, R.J. Barrett and Julius Randle the kind of team that Leonard would like to play on?
The bright lights of New York City and the promise of another star landing with the team could be enough to entice Kawhi to the East Coast, but the California native made it pretty clear after leaving Toronto that playing in L.A. was a priority.
For now, the Knicks are the favorite in Kawhi Leonard free agency odds if he doesn’t re-sign with the Clippers.
Dallas Mavericks (+250)
This option is more straightforward in Kawhi Leonard free agency odds: sign with Dallas, play with Luka Doncic, prosper.
A team built around Doncic and Leonard would have to be one of the favorites for the NBA Championship next season, and that possibility has to be intriguing for Kawhi.
Also, after spending the beginning of his career in San Antonio, Leonard is clearly comfortable playing in Texas.
And while the Mavs may have to move Kristaps Porzingis’ big contract to make it work, they already have a ton of cap space to use this offseason – making it easier for them than some of the other teams on the list to accommodate a Kawhi contract.
Toronto Raptors (+400)
Could a return north of the border be in the cards for Kawhi?
With Kyle Lowry gone, the Raptors should have some cap space to work with if they can move Goran Dragic’s contract (reportedly coming back from Miami in the Lowry sign-and-trade).
And while they may have to shift some other pieces around to make it work, there are still several players in Toronto left over from the team’s 2019 championship season that could entice Leonard into a return.
Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby make up a core of players that Kawhi would fit into seamlessly as a player with floor versatility and the ability to defend multiple positions at a high level.
And, of course, wouldn’t the idea of running it back for another shot at a championship (in the weaker Eastern Conference) be at least a little interesting to Kawhi?
Philadelphia 76ers (+600)
It’s hard to picture Leonard being interested in joining any team that isn’t a contender with at least one superstar already on the roster. Enter Philly, where Ben Simmons will almost certainly be traded in the coming days, creating a spot for Leonard to slide into on the roster and forming a formidable duo with Joel Embiid.
It seems unlikely that Kawhi would pick a northeastern team that isn’t in New York, but Philly certainly provides an attractive city, high-profile team and at least one superstar already in place.
The odds are long for a reason, but several of the boxes are checked for the Sixers.
Best Bet: Dallas Mavericks (+250)
Bettors must keep in mind that the Clippers are still rightfully the most likely destination for Leonard, but we like the fit with the Mavericks as the best bet in Kawhi Leonard free agency odds.
The Mavs offer something no other team on the list can boast: Luka Doncic. Other teams have superstars too, but Doncic is easily the best player on any of the teams with a realistic chance of landing Kawhi if he leaves Los Angeles.
The prospect of playing with Doncic, a return to Texas (not too far from his home in California) and the fact that the Mavs would likely be extremely aggressive in their pursuit of Kawhi (if he becomes available) make Dallas the best bet on the board. Odds at +250 give the Mavericks an implied probability of 28.57 percent of landing Kawhi.
Doc's Picks Service
Need more winning picks? Get $60 worth of premium member picks from Doc’s Sports – a recognized leader and trusted name in sports handicapping since 1971.