Cowherd explained that Leonard needs to go to a team that has a star who is relatively healthy so that he doesn’t have to be the key player that the team relies on.
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) April 26, 2023
“Jimmy Butler plays hurt all the time and is available,” Cowherd said when discussing options for Leonard. “So is Bam [Adebayo]. So, if you have an established culture and an established star – preferably one that plays 70 games a year – he’s fine.
“Everybody loves LeBron [James]. He’s playing 50 games a year. A.D. (Anthony Davis) is playing 55 games a year.”
Leonard’s 2022-23 season came to a tough ending, as he was diagnosed with a torn meniscus that cost him the final three games of the Clippers’ first-round series against the Phoenix Suns. After winning the first game of the series with Leonard, the Clippers lost Games 3, 4 and 5 without him.
Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his right knee, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Leonard averaged 35 points in first two games of this postseason vs. Suns before the meniscus injury was revealed and he was shut down by medical staff.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 26, 2023
Injuries have unfortunately been a problem for Leonard throughout his career, especially during his time with the Clippers. The two-time NBA Finals MVP missed the entire 2021-22 season after tearing his ACL in the playoffs in the 2020-21 campaign.
The Clippers made the Western Conference Finals in the 2020-21 season, but they came up short against the Suns.
With Leonard and Paul George both injured, the Clippers didn’t have much of a chance against the Suns this season. While Cowherd thinks a team like Miami should deal for Leonard, it may be harder than one thinks.
First off, Leonard’s newest knee injury has to be a major concern for any team willing to take on his contract and give up assets to acquire him. Not only that, but Leonard is only under contract through the 2023-24 season. He has a player option for the 2024-25 campaign.
That means any team trading for Leonard may only be getting him for a one-year rental. That’s a risky proposition since he’s coming off another major knee injury.
The Heat have a solid core with Butler, Adebayo and Tyler Herro, but the team would certainly have to move some pieces (potentially Herro) to bring Leonard on board.
There’s no doubt that pairing Leonard with a more reliable star than George (injury-wise) would be helpful, but there’s a ton of concern that Leonard wouldn’t be healthy when it matters anyway.
The Clippers have a lot of decisions to make regarding their future this coming offseason and beyond with Leonard and George.