The LA Clippers are a few weeks removed from their disappointing playoffs exit. The conversation around the franchise has shifted toward some massive changes to the roster over the offseason. Star forward Kawhi Leonard has ramped up that process by putting forth a stern demand that he wants the Clippers to appease.
Clippers fall disappointingly short of an NBA title
Throughout much of the 2019-20 season, the Clippers were viewed as the clear-cut favorites to secure the NBA title.
The front office put together a highly talented roster around their key offseason additions Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Many argued that LA possessed the league’s deepest team, and in several instances throughout the year, they looked like the franchise to beat.
However, things fell apart in the playoffs as the Clippers squandered a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets. LA struggled to hold onto double-digit second-half leads in Games 5 and 6 and blown out in the fourth quarter of Game 7.
The disappointing postseason departure has quickly led the team to part ways with longtime head coach Doc Rivers. The Clippers have also set the table for significant roster changes over the offseason, which Kawhi Leonard has already made one demand quite clear to the franchise.
Kawhi Leonard wants the Clippers to add a point guard
The Clippers’ rough playoff exit has put forth the expectation that significant changes lie ahead.
The conversation has now shifted over to possible roster moves to put the team on track to compete for an NBA title next season. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith recently revealed that Kawhi Leonard has privately voiced to the Clippers that he wants to add another point guard to the mix. (H/T Dan Feldman of NBC Sports)
They clearly need a point guard. Everybody knows it, and Kawhi Leonard privately has clamored for one. It’s not that he wants the to get rid of Patrick Beverley. But Patrick Beverley is basically a defensive ace who’s small and has to play opposing guards. So, they need a point guard that can run a team and can shoot. Patrick Beverley is that defensive energizer bunny that comes off the bench to do it for you.
Smith has a strong reputation in the business, but at times, has seen the accuracy of his reporting come into question. That said, if the rumors are on point, the need for a more balanced scoring option at point guard could help push the franchise forward. Patrick Beverley is a vital factor defensively while becoming a more reliable shooter from 3-point range but hasn’t expanded beyond that.
Smith’s reporting suggests that Leonard is hoping the Clippers can land an offensive threat at the position that can create their own offensive production. Another scoring guard would allow Lou Williams to continue to excel in his role off the bench and lessen the playmaking load on his shoulders.
LA has some major changes ahead
The Clippers’ failed run through the playoffs proved that they need a cultural and roster shift.
LA has already found their next head coach with Tyronn Lue on a five-year deal that includes Chauncey Billups serving as the lead assistant on the coaching staff. The expectation is that Montrezl Harrell will sign a lofty contract elsewhere in free agency, while Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris Sr., and Patrick Patterson may be on the same path.
The Clippers are in win-now mode more than ever before as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can become free agents in 2021. The pressure is on LA to field a team that can reach their championship aspirations, or things could head in a much different direction.