The Clippers could be on the verge of collapse.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are one season from being able to leave in unrestricted free agency. Their first year in L.A. certainly didn’t go as planned. The Clippers failed spectacularly in the playoffs amid chemistry issues.
New Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, via ESPN:
I think Kawhi and PG are here to stay for a long time. I think, in their situation and where they want to be, it’s here with the Clippers. We just have to make it a great environment, and we have to win.
Maybe Lue, who spent last season as a Clippers assistant and connects well with players, has genuine insight into Leonard’s and George’s plans.
Or maybe this is wishful thinking.
Leonard and George chose L.A. just last year. Certainly, not all the reasons for those decisions have suddenly disappeared. The safe bet is on both re-signing.
But it’s far from a given. Neither had the desired experience last season. Repeat that, and you never know.
It’s on Lue to help unite the Clippers’ locker room. The front office also has work to do. Leonard and George should do their parts to lead better. And the rest of the roster should come to terms with the team’s new hierarchy.
For Lue, if everything fails and this prediction turns out to be wrong, at least he has a five-year contract – though the guaranteed money would go only so far. He wants to win championships, not coach a Leonard-less, George-less team devoid of draft picks.
A lot rides on next season in L.A. Lue summarizes the challenge well: “We just have to make it a great environment, and we have to win.”
Easier said than done, though.