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Rumor: Clippers have considered buying rights to Kawhi Leonard’s logo from Nike, giving him control if he signs with them

Milwaukee Bucks v Toronto Raptors - Game Four

TORONTO, ONTARIO - MAY 21: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors warms up before game four of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks at Scotiabank Arena on May 21, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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The Clippers have gone to great lengths to recruit Kawhi Leonard.

Just how far would they go?

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

The Los Angeles Clippers are said to have quietly looked into the feasibility of purchasing the portion of the rights to Leonard’s “Klaw” logo that is still owned by Nike. The Clippers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday, but such an acquisition would theoretically enable them to bestow full control of the logo upon Leonard as part of their anticipated free-agency pitch meeting with the Toronto superstar.
Nike, as emphasized to me recently by a top official from the sportswear giant, is intent on rebuffing all approaches and retaining its rights to that logo for as long as it can — to assure that it would not appear on gear made by Leonard’s new contract partners at New Balance.

This would be clear salary-cap circumvention. The Clippers would never get away with it, even if they offered Nike enough money to change the company’s mind.

But the Clippers also got fined for circumvention in 2015, when they lined up an endorsement deal for DeAndre Jordan. So, this wouldn’t be out of character.

Ultimately, I’m unconvinced the Clippers ever took this latest idea seriously. It strikes me as the type of juicy story people around the league, knowing the desperation the Clippers have shown in pursuing Leonard, want to believe and spread. It’s also possible someone within the large Clippers organization suggested the idea then learned of the infeasibility.

If the Clippers actually intended to execute this plan this summer, I’d be surprised.

Of course, the Clippers could still lure Leonard, anyway. But the Raptors – who open the NBA Finals tomorrow – are making their best case.