Clippers team news: Kawhi Leonard signs a four-year, $176.3 million deal

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Five-time All-Star Kawhi Leonard has signed a four-year, $176.3 million contract to remain with the Los Angeles Clippers. In the 2020-21 NBA season, Leonard averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game in 52 games played. Last season, he ranked 16th overall for points per game and 10th in steals, averaging 1.6 per game. He also shot 51.2 percent from the field and almost 40 percent from three-point range. Statistically, last season was Leonard’s fourth-best season scoring-wise.

The second-best season of the small forward’s career offensively was back in the 2019-20 Toronto Raptors‘ championship season, when he averaged 26.6 points per game. On July 9, 2019, as a free agent, he signed a three-year, maximum contract with the Clippers. The 30-year-old earned $34,379,100 last season, and he was set to earn $36,016,200 for the upcoming 2021-22 season. However, this was a team option; he decided to opt out of his contract.

Moreover, considering Leonard was born in Los Angeles, this might explain why he wants to stay in the area. He attended King High School in Riverside, California and later played basketball at San Diego State University. As an Aztec for two seasons, he averaged 14.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in 70 games played. After his sophomore season, he was selected 15th overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 2011 NBA Draft. When he played for the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals, he averaged 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds against LeBron James and the Miami Heat, winning his first Finals MVP award.

Since Chauncey Billups in 2004, Leonard became only the sixth player to win the award while failing to qualify for the All-Star Game in the same season. Fast forward to the Raptors’ 2018-19 championship season, in the 2019 NBA Finals, the small forward won his second Finals MVP award, averaging 28.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. With the Clippers, he averaged 27 points per game in the 2019-20 season, the best in his professional playing career. After a terrific season, he was later named the All-Star Game MVP of the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, with 30 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

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