Mannix: If You Know What Kawhi Will Do, You're Lying

What will Kawhi Leonard do this offseason? Chris Mannix has no idea – and neither does anyone else

The DA Show
May 03, 2019 - 12:35 pm

The Toronto Raptors lost Game 3 of their second-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, 116-95, on Thursday. They now trail the Sixers 2-1 in the series, which doesn’t bode well for Mission Keep Kawhi Leonard.

Ultimately, what will Leonard do this offseason? Will he stay in Toronto or sign elsewhere?

NBA analyst Chris Mannix has no idea – and neither does anyone else.

“Anyone that claims to know what kind of goes on in Kawhi Leonard’s head is just lying,” Mannix said on The DA Show. “I’ve done multiple, long profiles on him for Sports Illustrated, and I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that I have no idea what goes on in that guy’s head. He just has a very tight inner circle. It’s a family member or two, and his best friend is an assistant with the Raptors. These guys kind of know what’s going on in his head, but they would probably admit he’s capable of making any decision.”

Mannix could see Leonard, an L.A. native, signing with the Clippers.

“It stands to reason that with the Clippers looming out there as a really good team, as a team that’s going to be really impressive in the free-agency room, if you get beat in the second round, your chances tend to crater,” Mannix said. “I’ve gone into this thinking that making the Finals was probably the best chance Toronto had of retaining Kawhi Leonard, so it stand to reason that getting beat in the second round is going to make it exceedingly difficult. I know the Raptors have worked hard with Kawhi Leonard throughout the year. Masai Ujiri is a personable guy and a terrific executive in his own right, so I think it will be a tough call. But they’ve got to keep advancing if they want their chances to increase.” 

Notice that Mannix believes the Clippers – not the Lakers – are a more attractive free-agent destination. Not just for Leonard. For everyone.

“I think it’s the Clippers, no question,” Mannix said. “Think about what the Clippers are going to be able to have in the room. You’re going to have Doc Rivers, one of the most-liked and respected and best coaches in all of basketball. You’re going to have Lawrence Frank, who’s going to come prepared for this meeting with multiple staff members and a pretty good presentation with whoever they’re meeting him, and Steve Ballmer, who is really an asset to that team.”

Ballmer, of course, is known for having a lot of fun at games.

“Oftentimes I think owners can be a detriment,” Mannix said. “If you’re the Knicks, I don’t think you want James Dolan in a free-agency meeting. But Steve Ballmer is this giant ball of energy who is all positivity, all excitement and who has shown he’s a hands-off type of owner that lets Lawrence Frank and Doc Rivers do their thing while spending as much money as they need to construct a winner. I think there’s no question: the Clippers are extremely dangerous. Honestly, with the Lakers, I find myself wondering if the Phoenix Suns are a better coaching job at this point. That’s kind of where we are with the Lakers.”