Clips’ Frank: ‘Kawhi(Leonard) is a transcendent player and a relentless worker who improves himself every day’

The Los Angeles Clippers have officially re-signed free agent Kawhi Leonard, the team announced on Thursday.

According to Yahoo’s Chris B. Haynes, it’s a four-year contract that includes a player option worth a reported $176 million.

The 10-year veteran became a free agent after he opted out of his deal earlier this month.

“Kawhi is a transcendent player and a relentless worker who improves himself every day,” said Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank. “We share many of the same goals, which include a long-term relationship. This agreement marks another important moment for our franchise and our fans, as we strive to create a championship-caliber organization where players find the success and fulfillment they seek. We’re eager to continue building with Kawhi. For now, we will do whatever we can to support him in his recovery from injury. We look forward to seeing him back where he wants to be, on the court with his teammates.” 

Leonard, who averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.5 steals, missed all of the Western Conference finals due to a partially torn right ACL that he suffered against the Jazz in the second round.

The 30-year-old Leonard signed with the Clippers as a free agent after winning a championship with the Raptors in 2019.

Getting the five-time All-Star back is huge for the Clippers. If Leonard was healthy, Los Angeles might have won a championship last season, so with Leonard back, expect Los Angeles to be a championship contender next season.

Clips’ Leonard has surgery to repair partially torn ACL

Clippers F Kawhi Leonard underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his right ACL, the team announced on Tuesday.

According to the team, the surgery was a success, and there is no timetable for his return.

Leonard, 30, injured his knee against the Jazz in Game 4 of their second-round series and would miss the rest of the playoffs.

The nine-year veteran can opt out of his contract this summer and become a free agent. 

This season, Leonard, who signed with the Clippers in 2019 after winning a championship with the Toronto Raptors, averaged 24.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game.

Jokic, Antetokounmpo, Curry, Leonard, Doncic named to First Team All-NBA

League MVP Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, and Luka Doncic were named to the 2020-21 All-NBA First Team, the league announced on Tuesday.

Antetokounmpo was the only player to receive All-NBA First Team votes on all 100 ballots, earning his third consecutive First Team selection and fifth All-NBA Team honor overall. Jokic, the first player to be named the NBA MVP as a member of the Nuggets, received 99 First Team votes to make the First Team for the second time in the last three seasons. Curry, who averaged an NBA-leading 32.0 points this season, received 98 First Team votes in his fourth selection to the First Team and seventh All-NBA Team honor overall.

Leonard was voted to the All-NBA First Team for the third time and earned his fifth All-NBA Team selection. The 22-year-old Doncic has been selected to the All-NBA First Team for the second season in a row. He is the first player to make the All-NBA First Team at least twice in his first three NBA seasons since Tim Duncan (three times from 1997-98 – 1999-2000).

The 2020-21 All-NBA Second Team consists of Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James.

The 2020-21 All-NBA Third Team is composed of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler, Clippers forward Paul George, Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving.

James has extended his league record for most All-NBA Team selections to 17, including a record 13 selections to the First Team, three to the Second Team, and one to the Third Team. Paul has been voted to the All-NBA Team for the 10th time, the second-most among active players behind James.

This is the sixth All-NBA Team selection for Lillard and George, the fourth for Gobert and Butler, and the third for Embiid and Irving. Randle and Beal have each been selected to the All-NBA Team for the first time.

Mavs’ Carlisle on Doncic: ‘I think he’s proven he’s a top-5 player in the world’

The Dallas Mavericks season ended against the Los Angeles Clippers for the second straight year in the first round of the playoffs. This time, the Mavericks fell to the Clippers in 7 as they lost 126-111 at Staples Center on Sunday.

Despite the loss, the Mavericks did make improvements. Last season, they were the seventh seed in the Western Conference. However, this season, they were the fifth seed in the West. Last season, they lost to the Clippers in the first round in six. This season, they lost to Clippers in seven.

Also, Luka Doncic, who had 46 points, 14 assists, and seven rebounds on Sunday, is becoming one best players in basketball. In the regular season, Doncic, 22, averaged 27.7 points, 8.6 assists, and 8.0 rebounds per game.

However, as the great ones do, they up their game in the playoffs. Doncic averaged 35.7 points, 10.2 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game in this series against the Clippers. Also, according to mavstats, Doncic accounted for 33.7% of Dallas’ points in the series, the highest percentage in any series in Mavs history (previous record: Dirk’s 32.2% vs. DEN in 2009 West Semifinals).

According to his head coach Rick Carlisle, Doncic’s performance in this series solidifies him as a top-five player in the NBA.

“Even before this series started, I think he’s proven he’s a top-5 player in the world,” Carlise said after the game. “This series certainly validates that. And we’ve just got to keep building the team around him…Luka is an amazing player. I don’t think there’s anybody that would dispute that.”

Kawhi Leonard added on Doncic: “Oh, man, you know, he did everything. I don’t know how many 40-point games he had; I believe three, three, or four. You know, shooting it very efficiently from three for sure off the dribble shots. You know, just doing it all for his team. You know he’s a great player, and you’ll see him for many years to come. He plays at his own pace, and he makes it look easy out there.”

Doncic was the best player in this series, and If he continues at this pace, he could very well be the best in the NBA.

Clips’ Leonard on big Game 6 performance: ‘I didn’t want to go home’

For the first time in NBA playoff history, the road team has won the first six games of a series as the Clippers defeated the Mavericks 104-97 in Game 6 at American Airlines Center to even up their best-of-seven first-round series at three.

Both teams have won three straight on the road, and Game 7 is Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles.

The biggest reason we will have a Game 7 is the play of Kawhi Leonard. The two-time NBA Finals MVP led the Clippers with a postseason career-high 46 points on 18-25 shooting, including 5/8 from three-point range. Leonard had 29 points in the second half, including 17 points in the third quarter.

“Like I said, I didn’t want to go home,” Leonard said after the game. “I had to assert myself into the game. My teammates found me. I got some open looks and knocked them down. I just kept going from there. I stayed in trust with my teammates.”

Clippers head coach Ty Lue added on Leonard: “Great players perform in big moments. He was taking the challenge, guarding Luka [Dončić] the whole game. I thought our coverage was great. He played 42 minutes and guarded their best player, who is a hell of a player, for the whole game. That just shows you who Kawhi Leonard is.”

Leonard was a force on Friday night, which Mavs star Luka Doncic, who had 29 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds, and a career-high four steals in Game 6, acknowledged after the game.

“He destroyed us,” Doncic said about Leonard. “That’s what it is. He had a hell of a game. That’s what he does. He had a hell of a game.”

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle added on Leonard: “The fact that he had the energy offensively to hit those shots down the stretch — the majority of which were very difficult — is something to behold.”

It’s win or go home, and Carlisle expects his team to be ready for Game 7.

“So, we’re headed for Game 7,” he said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for our team. I don’t know if any of the guys in our locker room other than maybe [JJ] Redick have been in a Game 7. We’ll be excited, and we’ll be ready.”

Doncic added: “It is Game 7. It doesn’t matter where you are. You have to leave everything on the court. That’s it. It is Game 7.”

Usually, you favor the home team in a Game 7, but clearly, this is not your typical series and based on how this series has played out, maybe you favor the Mavericks. Who knows, but one thing is sure, it’s probably going to be fun.

Notes:

-Paul George had 20 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks tonight for Los Angeles in Game 6.

-The Mavericks welcomed their largest crowd of the season to American Airlines Center, with 18,324 fans in attendance on Friday night.

-With his father, five-time All-Star Tim Hardaway Sr. in attendance, Tim Hardaway Jr. had 23 points on 9-19 shooting. Hardaway Jr. now has 20+ points in four of the six games in this series.

-Doncic ranks second in the NBA this postseason amongst all scorers with 34.0 ppg, only slightly behind Portland’s Damian Lillard (34.3 ppg).

-Kristaps Porzingis had seven points and five rebounds on Friday night, and despite not being a focal point of the Mavs’ offense, Porzingis is trying to stay positive.

“As you said, I am just trying to make an impact with what I can on the defensive end and helping the team however I can,” he said. “I got decent looks tonight. It is what it is. Sunday is going to be a war, so we have to be prepared.”

 

Mavs’ Carlisle on Game 1 against Clippers: ‘”It’s a great effort, great win’

When you go on the road to start a playoff series, the goal is to get at least one, and on Saturday in Los Angeles against the Clippers, the Dallas Mavericks did just that.

Behind a triple-double from Luka Doncic, who had 31 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds and Tim Hardway Jr’s. 21 points, the Mavericks defeated the Clippers 113-103 in Game 1 of their first-round series. 

Game 2 is on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

Doncic scored 21 of his 31 points in the first half as the Mavericks led 60-55 at halftime. Dallas maintained that lead in the third and led 86-80 after three quarters. Los Angeles would take their first lead since the second quarter early in the fourth, but Dallas would take the lead for good when Dorian Finney-Smith, who had 18 points, hit a three with just under three minutes left in the game to put Dallas ahead 103-100.  

“I just know, again, they’re going to send two guys at Luka, and we’ve just got to be ready to shoot,” Finney-Smith, who made four threes against the Clippers, said after the game. “Most times in the game, people take the ball out of L.D.’s(Doncic) hands, and I just know us four have got to be ready to shoot.”

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle was happy with the team’s effort on Saturday.

“Obviously, it’s an important game for us,” Carlisle said. “It’s a great effort, great win. Start to the game was important, gave us momentum… When they came back and took the lead in the second half, we really exhibited great poise, and we stayed aggressive. That’s what you got to do in a playoff series.”

Back to Doncic, he was held to one point in the fourth quarter as the Clippers tried to get the ball out of his hands, which he discussed after the game.

“I mean, they were double-teaming, first of all, on every possession,” Doncic said. “My legs were kind of like sore, but we won the game, man. That’s all that matters to me. If I have 0 or 15 points, that’s what’s important.”

Kristaps Porzingis, who was 4/13 from the field and finished with 14 points on Saturday, knows the Clippers will make adjustments in Game 2 on Tuesday night.

“I had an off night tonight, and we were still able to get the win,” he said. “All the guys stepped up. Luka had a huge game. I’m sure they’re going to make some adjustments, but we’re also going to get better, and it’s going to be a fun second game.”

Dallas got a huge win on Saturday, but there is a lot of basketball left in this series. It should be interesting to see how the Mavericks respond in Game 2. Will Dallas be happy with a split, or we’ll play with the same sense of urgency as they did in Game 1? We’ll find out on Tuesday night.

Notes:

-Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 26 points, and Paul George added 23.

-Dallas was undefeated(27-0) in the regular season when leading after the first quarter, and that trend continued in the playoffs as the team led 33-30 after one quarter on Sunday.

Spurs drop third straight after loss to Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers(29-16) are a very talented team, and they have a lot of guys who can make shots, which they did on Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs(22-19).

Los Angeles shot 51%(17-33) from three-point range. Ex-Spur Kawhi Leonard led the way for Los Angeles with a game-high 25 points, and Marcus Morris, who hit five three-pointers, had 20 points as the Clippers defeated the Spurs 134-101 in the first game of their two-game set at AT&T Center.

Los Angeles has now won three straight. The Spurs dropped their third straight at home and their third consecutive game overall.

The Clippers had six guys in double figures on Wednesday night.

DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Spurs with 19 points.

Fortunately for the Spurs, they have an opportunity to avenge this loss on Thursday night as San Antonio plays the third game of their nine-game homestand against the Clippers. 

The Clippers were in control of this game from the start and never trailed in this one. Los Angeles led by as much as 35 points in this contest. 

When asked what San Antonio can do better to defeat the Clippers on Thursday, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said this:

“We have to do whatever we did tonight a little bit better,” he said.

Spurs Dejounte Murray added: “We were more focused on the obvious two, Kawhi and Paul George. We have to know who’s who on the floor and what they are capable of.”

The first two games of this homestand have been a disappointment for San Antonio, and with this loss, the Spurs dropped to 8th in the Western Conference.

After this poor performance, It should be interesting to see San Antonio’s response on Thursday night.

 

 

 

Carlisle on Luka: ‘Sometimes you simply run out of adjectives to describe how good he is’

The Dallas Mavericks(21-18) were looking to avenge Monday’s loss to the Clippers(26-16) on Wednesday night, and behind their All-Star guard Luka Doncic, Dallas defeated the Clippers at home 105-89 in the second of their two-game set with Los Angeles.

Doncic was 16-28 from the field, including 6-11 from three-point range. He also had nine assists, six rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. Doncic has now scored 40-plus against the Clippers on three occasions (incl. playoffs), his most against any team. 

It was like a playoff game at American Airlines Center on Wednesday night, which Doncic discussed after the game. 

“They’re a really good defensive team,” Doncic said about the Clippers. “The past two games were like playoffs.”

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle ran out of words to describe the greatness of Doncic.

“Luka [Dončić] was spectacular,” Carlisle said. “Sometimes, you simply run out of adjectives to describe how good he is. But he was exceptionally good tonight, and we needed every point, every rebound, every assist, and defensively, he was terrific as well.”

Maxi Kleber, who had 12 points for Dallas on Wednesday night, has a lot of confidence when Doncic shoots the basketball.

“Sometimes, when I am on the court, it feels the same way,” he said. “You see him attack the guys, and he takes an easy step back; that looks so simple for him, but every time he shoots it, you think that is cash. He creates a little bit of space, and he doesn’t need much, and he shoots it, and every time the ball goes up, I think it is a basket. Today he just did incredible things. He was scoring on every possession, it felt like. He is a very rare and special talent. I think that was Luka Magic everybody has been seeing all year long here.”

Dallas now travels to Portland to face the Blazers in a two-game set starting on Friday, and according to Josh Richardson, Dallas will be ready.

“It’s my first year in the Western Conference,” he said. “Seeing all these tough opponents every night is tough. It’s a grind. But I think we have the players and the depth to fight through that and to be able to go out and battle.”

Notes:

Paul George led the Clippers with 28 points (5-8 3FG), 7 rebounds and 5 assists in 41 minutes.

Kawhi Leonard had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists for the Clippers. Leonard has scored 20+ points in 21 of his last 22 games.

Luka Doncic named to All-NBA First Team

Mavericks guard Luka Dončić was named to the 2019-20 All-NBA First Team, the league announced on Wednesday. Dončić was joined on the All-NBA First Team by LeBron James(unanimous), Giannis Antetokounmpo(unanimous), James Harden, and Anthony Davis.

Dončić, who was 21 years, 168 days old on the final day of the 2019-20 regular season (Aug. 14), becomes the sixth player to earn All-NBA First Team honors at age 21-or-younger, along with LeBron James (2006), Max Zaslofsky (1947), Kevin Durant (2010), Tim Duncan (1998) and Rick Barry (1966). James (21 years, 110 days) and Zaslofsky (21 years, 114 days) are the only players to achieve the feat at a younger age than Dončić. In fact, if the season would have ended on its originally scheduled date (April 15), Dončić would have been the youngest to ever do it.

The second-year guard becomes the first player named to the All-NBA First Team in either his first or second season since Duncan in 1998-99 (Duncan made the First Team in each of his first eight seasons from 1997-98 to 2004-05).

Dončić averaged 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists in 54 games before to the restart (through March 11). The 2018-19 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year saw his numbers increase in the bubble, as he nearly averaged a 30-point triple-double (30.0 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 9.7 apg) in Orlando en route to being named a unanimous Kia NBA All-Seeding Games First Team selection. Dončić finished the regular season with averages of 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists in 61 games (all starts), becoming just the third player in NBA history to average at least 28-9-8 for a full season (Oscar Robertson, Russell Westbrook).

The 21-year-old recorded a league-high 17 triple-doubles in 2019-20, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to lead the league outright in the category. Dončić not only broke Jason Kidd’s Mavericks single-season triple-double record (nine in 1995-96), but he became the franchise’s all-time leader in the category as well (25). Twelve of his triple-doubles were of the 30-point variety, and he again joined Robertson and Westbrook as one of three players to record at least 12 30-point triple-doubles in a single season.

Dončić also finished the season as the league leader in 25-point, 10-rebound, 15-assist games (five), 30-10-7 efforts (18) and 20-5-5 games (50).

Dončić ranked sixth in scoring (28.8 ppg), 17th in rebounding (9.4 rpg) and third in assists (8.8 apg). He became the seventh player since the ABA/NBA merger (1976-77) to finish a season ranked in the top-20 among qualifiers in scoring, rebounding and assists (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Grant Hill, Kevin Garnett, James, Westbrook).

Voting for the 2019-20 All-NBA Teams was based on games played through March 11 (prior to the hiatus).

 

2019-20 NBA All-NBA Second Team:

Kawhi Leonard (L.A. Clippers)

Nikola Jokić (Denver Nuggets)

Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)

Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors)

 

2019-20 NBA All-NBA Third Team:

Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)

Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat)

Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)

Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)

Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets)

Doncic on Kawhi Leonard: ‘He is hard to stop, almost impossible to stop’

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Clippers were finally able to put the Dallas Mavericks away and advance to the Western Conference semifinals, but it wasn’t without a fight. The Clippers led the game by as much as 23 points in the second half, but the Mavericks were able to cut the lead to six in the fourth quarter. Then, Kawhi Leonard took over.

The two-time Finals’ MVP would score on four consecutive possessions for the Clippers in the fourth quarter. He would go 4-4 with 8 points in the final quarter and finished with 33 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, and five steals in 40 minutes, as the Clippers defeated the Mavericks 111-97 in Game 6 to win the series 4-2. With the victory, the Clippers will play the winner of the Jazz-Nuggets series.

This was Leonard’s fifth straight playoff game with at least 30 points, marking a new career-long. According to the Clippers, Leonard is the first player in franchise history to notch at least 30 points and five steals in a playoff game.

“You can tell he was the one guy that shoots to close out a series,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “He was calm. He got us in place.”

Leonard is a great player, and at times, he can be unstoppable, which Luka Doncic noted after the game.

“He is an amazing player,” Doncic said. “He shows up every game. He is hard to stop, almost impossible to stop. Like I said, he is an amazing player, and a lot of people look up to him.”

Paul George struggled at times in the series against the Mavericks, but Leonard was able to pick up the slack for the Clippers, and now Los Angeles is one step closer to an NBA title.

“You always celebrate,” Leonard said about winning their first-round series against Dallas. “You could be going home right now. It’s one step closer to where we want to get to, so it’s a good accomplishment that we got out of the first round. We enjoy it tonight, and we get ready for the next thing tomorrow.”

From top to bottom, the Clippers probably have the most talented team in the NBA. Their depth is impressive, and they have maybe the best player in the game in Leonard, so with Leonard and George leading the way, anything short of an NBA title would be a disappointment for the Clippers.