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Kawhi’s decision


Kawhi Leonard’s decision to re-up with the Clippers was most definitely the biggest pieces of news to hit hoops circles last week. It wasn’t simply that he did so; it was that he affixed his Hancock on a four-year deal that includes a player option. That he previously declined a similar option in order to hit free agency was predictable; even as he did not seem to want to go anywhere else, he netted himself a cool $3.3 million through the upcoming season just for taking the one-step-back, two-steps-forward route. He may have let his employers sweat for a bit, but only a fool and his mother would have thought him ready to pack his bags — especially since he’s slated to use the near term convalescing from an anterior cruciate ligament tear.

Going by the same argument, however, Leonard’s final choice left not a few quarters pondering on the state of his health. After all, he could have opted for a one-plus-one arrangement that sets him up for a humongous payday next year via the Larry Bird exception. Given the five-year, $235-million windfall he would have been due, the $176.3 million he now stands to pocket pales in comparison. Logic seems to indicate that he went for the bird in the hand instead of the two in the bush because even he himself does not know what the future brings in the face of his history of injuries.

No matter the reason, this much is true: Leonard’s timeline now matches that of fellow All-Star teammate Paul George — which, from the vantage point of the Clippers, is likewise well and good. If nothing else, they at least have their window of opportunity down pat, and can make and execute plans accordingly. And, yes, they continue to have grand designs for their 2021-22 campaign; for instance, they brought back playoff revelation Reggie Jackson at the maximum-allowable $22 million for two seasons. Also on board anew are such notables as Nicolas Batum and Serge Ibaka. Their top dog may not be around, but their ambition remains.

In the face of the talent depth of acknowledged contenders, the Clippers aren’t anywhere close to keeping up. Still, they deserve major props for doing as best they can; they’re not taking any fliers, not tempting fate, not clinging to their snakebitten past. Instead, they’re hoping, perhaps even against hope, that they will be amply rewarded for their efforts — which, in the end, may yet make all the difference.


Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.