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.

Watch NBA rookies try to guess Warriors guard Jordan Poole's nickname

Watch NBA rookies try to guess Warriors guard Jordan Poole's nickname

The best part of any of the sports reference websites is when you discover the nicknames of athletes, and whether the height listed is accurate.

But some might not even be aware of these nicknames, even Ty Jerome was unaware he's been dubbed as "Milk."

NBA TV had some fun quizzing rookies and their classmates about the nicknames Basketball Reference had listed on the website. And it went about as you would expect it to be:

Warriors rookie Jordan Poole's "Microwave" nickname was guessed rather easily.

The microwave nickname came when he was asked if he knew who the original "Microwave," Vinne Johnson was. He was young and didn't quite know who he was, but it ended up sticking. 

Plus, the fact that he scores fast and "heats up" quickly adds to the comparison.

[RELATED: Iggy catches Steph looking stunned in photo]

He likes it, even suggesting "The Microwave Part II."

If you don't know, now you know. 

Warriors were ready to boycott game after Donald Sterling audio release


Warriors were ready to boycott game after Donald Sterling audio release

The 2014 NBA playoffs saw Adam Silver handling his toughest test as NBA commissioner just a few months into the job.

TMZ published a phone recording of Clippers owner Donald Sterling going on a racist rant to his mistress V. Stiviano. Sterling had been a black stain on the NBA for his entire history as Clippers owner, but the recording put Silver on the clock.

The players wanted Sterling thrown out of the league for good post-haste. 

While the Sterling tape was dominating the headlines, the Clippers and Warriors were locked in a hotly contested first-round playoff series. Ahead of Game 5 at Staples Center, Warriors general manager Bob Myers called team president Rick Welts to tell him the players were prepared to make a stand if Silver's punishment wasn't up to snuff. 

"'These guys are going to walk off the floor,'" Welts recalled to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. "He was with the team that morning and said the vibe around the team -- maybe both teams -- was that if this doesn't go the way the players want it to go that they could walk out on the floor and then walk right off and not play the game that night."

Former Warriors forward Andre Iguodala was more than ready to take a stand if Silver lacked the conviction to do what was necessary.

"I was all-in. Like shut down the whole season," Iguodala said. "Maybe that was too far, but as far as that game that day, you can reschedule it, you gotta sort this thing out, because there's some deep-rooted stuff with him that had to be addressed."

Draymond Green told NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock that the boycott was a full-go. 

"I remember everybody talking like if Adam Silver don't come down with a tough enough post and we don't think it's right, we're not playing tonight," Green said.

Had the Clippers and Warriors elected not to play Game 5, it's a moment that would have gone down as one of the most important and momentous acts in sports history and in the overall arc of the fight for social justice and equality in America.

"If we didn't play," former Clipper Jamal Crawford said, "I think that honestly it would have outlived us. They would be talking about that while we're not here anymore.

"It's never happened. At that magnitude, at that level."

[RELATED: Dubs of East? Hawks building something with young core]

The stand, as you know, was not needed.

Silver stood in front of the world and banned Sterling from the NBA for life, leading to him selling the team to Steve Ballmer.

The Clippers went on to win the series in seven games.