The NBA 2019-20 season was suspended by the league on March 11 after Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. Though the NBA was reported to be determined on resuming the season, recent reports suggest that the authorities are currently pessimistic about the resumption. If the season does get cancelled, the Los Angeles Clippers could face difficulties in re-signing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George when they enter NBA free agency after their contract expires.
While most NBA teams will be affected by the NBA cancellation, reports suggest that the LA Clippers could lose both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. When Kawhi Leonard signed with the team last summer, he did so for two seasons with a player option for the third. While a four-year deal was an option for Kawhi Leonard, his current deal sets him up for a better contract in 2021 after he completes ten years in the NBA. On the other hand, Paul George could also enter free agency next season.
According to reports, in a normal scenario, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George would both sign with the Clippers. However, if the season gets cancelled, they could move on to other teams who might offer them better contracts as the NBA salary cap will be hit after the cancellation. While acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul Goerge, the Clippers traded all their first-round draft picks from 2021-2026 and upcoming star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to OKC Thunder.
With no draft picks to replace the potential exits of the superstars, the Clippers will find it difficult to fill the gaping hole that could be left by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. As one of the top contenders, the Clippers were in with a decent chance at the NBA championship in 2019-20. Reports indicate that if they do not win or even play the postseason this year, the organization will have little to offer to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the future.
Along with the above-mentioned trade, the Clippers also traded their 2020 first-round pick to New York Knicks for Marcus Morris. If an NBA cancelled announcement is made, Morris will become a free agent during the off-season. As per reports, signing him then would have been a better move for the Clippers, as they would have had him for an entire regular season. Montrezl Harrell will also enter free agency in the off-season.
According to reports, being one of the best players in free agency next season will increase the demand for him. In case of an NBA cancelled scenario, the Clippers might have to re-sign everyone including Morris and Harrell, which would put too much weightage on their next campaign. Not only would a cancellation take away the chances for Clippers winning an NBA title, but it would also add pressure on them for winning the next season in order to keep Kawhi Leonard and Paul George at the franchise.