Kawhi Leonard's shorter contract could mean short reign for Clippers

Kawhi Leonard's shorter contract could mean short reign for Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers pulled off the coup of the offseason when they signed Kawhi Leonard and paired him with Paul George via a shocking trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Following the blockbuster move, most had the Clippers listed as the NBA title favorites for the upcoming season and the foreseeable future, and for good reason. 

But their reign -- if it materializes -- might not last as long as some initially thought.

While the first reports had Leonard signing a four-year deal with the Clippers, that reportedly is not the case, The Athletic's Sham Charania reported Wednesday. 

This certainly is an interesting development.

By signing a two-plus-one contract, Leonard lines his contract up with George's and also gives the Clippers two seasons to prove the franchise can deliver on what they promised the two-time NBA Finals MVP.

Should their time with the Clippers prove unfruitful, Leonard and George both can become free agents in the summer of 2021, joining a class that will or could include Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo and Blake Griffin.

There's a reason most teams that missed out on big names this summer (Lakers and Knicks), signed players to two-year contracts, hoping to keep their books open for what could be a landscape-shifting summer in 2021. 

Leonard's decision also could be good news for the currently healing Warriors. As Golden State looks to reboot its dynasty around Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell, the Western Conference is more dangerous than it's ever been. But if Leonard and George's time with the Clippers only lasts 24 months, then having a funeral for the Warriors' dynasty might have been a bit premature.

While this upcoming season might have to serve as a recharging year for Curry and Co., a healthy Warriors team still could cause issues in the revamped Western Conference come playoff time. After that, the Dubs might only have to contend with Leonard's Clippers for one more season before potentially climbing back to the top of the Western Conference depending on where the dominoes fall.

With a few years left of Curry and Thompson's prime, it wouldn't be shocking to see the Dubs once again anoint themselves as the Western Conference's premier team, especially if Leonard and George don't stay with the Clippers long term. 

[RELATED: Ranking Western Conference powers after Clips' Kawhi deal]

The Warriors also undoubtedly have their eye on what looks to be a vaunted 2021 free-agent class. Golden State's cap situation still will be tenuous at that time, though, with Curry being owed $45.7 million and Thompson $37.9 million in 2021-22. The Warriors also are likely to offer Green a max extension which would add to their cap constraints. The Warriors could look to trade Russell before then -- and likely will -- but the cap room gained from that wouldn't be enough to ink a max guy.

So while I wouldn't put it past Bob Myers to try and snag a big name in 2021, it will not be easy to manipulate the cap in the necessary fashion to orchestrate such a move.

This also could be a play by Leonard to recoup some of the value he's lost in demanding a trade from the San Antonio Spurs and leaving the Raptors after one season. In order to be eligible for a five-year, 35 percent max contract with eight percent raises per year, a player must have three consecutive seasons with the same team to qualify. By structuring his contract this way, Leonard can either sign a four-year 35 percent max deal with five percent raises after Year 2 with the Clippers or sign a five-year 35 percent max with eight percent raises after Year 3.

That would be less ideal for the former kings of the Western Conference and the rest of the NBA.

Or, this could just be about the leverage.

Either way, it looks like the NBA will have two years of relative stability before possibly shaking up like a snow globe again.

Nets GM Sean Marks denies wild Gregg Popovich 'Godfather offer' rumor

Nets GM Sean Marks denies wild Gregg Popovich 'Godfather offer' rumor

Could Kevin Durant and Gregg Popovich team up in Brooklyn?

As unlikely as the scenario is, there is a rumor floating around the NBA Twitterverse that the Nets are preparing to try to lure the legendary coach away from the San Antonio Spurs.

Stick with me here.

During a recent episode of the "Let's Get Technical" podcast, former NBA player Gerald Brown joined hosts Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells, and guest Amin Elhassan. Brown said this:

"There's a story going around that the owner of the Brooklyn Nets is looking to make a 'Godfather offer' to Gregg Popovich, and when I say the 'Godfather [offer], it's something he can't refuse," Brown said. "Hearing this news, and it's probably going to circulate more in the days to come, I'm not really buying it at all."

Brown didn't cite a source on this rumor. But back in March, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith did mention Popovich's name as one of three candidates for the Nets' job (H/T The Spun), along with former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Ty Lue and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson.

The Pop-to-Nets rumor had enough legs to make it all the way back to Brooklyn GM Sean Marks, who was asked during an interview on WFAN radio in New York about the idea of pursuing the longtime Spurs coach.

"Pop has a job," Marks told Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Friday. "So I will say that. And, obviously, we all know he’s an amazing, amazing coach, and to be quite frank, an even better leader. So I’ll let Pop continue to coach for the Spurs, and he owes it to them and they owe it to him. I’m sure he’s quite happy there."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

But would it make sense for the Warriors nemesis to leave San Antonio for Brooklyn?

The Nets need a permanent coach for the 2020-21 season. Brooklyn fired Kenny Atkinson in March, and interim coach Jacque Vaughn will guide the bare bones team through the NBA restart in Orlando, but he might not be the answer in the long run.

Durant and fellow NBA superstar Kyrie Irving are going to want a coach with experience and a proven plan. While Lue won an NBA title with the Cavs, and Jackson laid the foundation for the Warriors, they aren't the sexy picks.

Why would Popovich leave San Antonio, where he's coached for 24 seasons? The Spurs have been considered the gold standard for NBA teams for the last two decades, but they've fallen on hard times. Their streak of 22 straight NBA playoff appearances likely will come to an end this season, and they don't have a bonafide superstar to build around for the next few seasons.

So maybe it's time for Pop to chase a new challenge. Of course, he's 71 years old and has been coaching in the league since 1988, so maybe his next move is to hang up the clipboard.

But if Popovich wants one more chance to win a ring, bolting for Brooklyn might not be the worst idea, especially if the Nets are willing to make a "Godfather Offer" to him.

[RELATED: Durant all smiles on Dubs anniversary]

There would also be the strange twist of Durant teaming up with Warriors coach Steve Kerr's mentor.

If Pop really did make the move, the Warriors wouldn't have to deal with him in the Western Conference, but if they return to NBA title contention, they might be looking at Popovich, Durant and Irving across from them in the NBA Finals.

Now that's a juicy storyline. NBA Twitter might explode if that happened next summer.

Heat guard Tyler Herro studies Warriors' Klay Thompson to improve shot

Heat guard Tyler Herro studies Warriors' Klay Thompson to improve shot

Klay Thompson's shot is that of near perfection. Steph Curry might be regarded as the greatest shooter in NBA history, but his fellow Splash Brother's form is picturesque. 

Miami Heat rookie Tyler Herro is taking note, too. The shooting guard has taken advantage of his time away from the court before the NBA's restart by watching film on Thompson and other greats.

"Klay Thompson, Ray Allen, CJ McCollum, Steve Nash and Bradley Beal are the guys that’s I’ve watched, just picking different things from each player," Herro recently told reporters, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman. 

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Herro, 20, is averaging 12.9 points per game for the Heat while shooting an impressive 39.1 percent from 3-point range. As a rookie, Thompson shot 41.4 percent from deep and has a career 41.9 shooting percentage from beyond the arc. They don't make many like Klay. 

Miami's young sharpshooter is studying one specific part of Thompson's game, too.

"You know, Klay and Ray, they do the catch-and-shoot very well," Herro said. "So that's the thing that I pay attention to when I'm watching them. But every player that I watch, or the coaches have me watch, I can dissect something new or something different from their game to try to add it to mine."

[RELATED: Steph has funny prediction for Warriors-Cavs bubble rematch]

Herro and the Heat resume their season Aug. 1 against the Denver Nuggets in Orlando. In just his first season, he has helped the Heat become a contender as a feared outside shooter and will play a big role once the NBA returns. 

Rested, healthy and full of more knowledge from hours watching film, we'll soon be able to see what exactly Herro picked up from Thompson other great shooters.