For the second time in three years, Kawhi Leonard will become a free agent after reportedly declining his player option with the Los Angeles Clippers.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the 30-year-old has turned down his $36 million salary for the 2021-22 season. Wojnarowski noted the expectation is Leonard will negotiate a new deal to remain with the Clippers.
Leonard remains a dominant player when he's healthy, but he's also someone whose minutes have been carefully managed in recent seasons. The five-time All-Star missed the Clippers' final eight playoff games in 2021 with an unspecified knee injury.
The team announced on July 13 that Leonard underwent surgery to repair a partially torn ACL. They didn't specify a return timetable.
Prior to the knee issue, Leonard was averaging 30.4 points on 57.3 percent shooting with 7.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per contest in 11 playoff games.
Leonard's decision to opt out wasn't totally unexpected, though it doesn't mean he is looking to leave Los Angeles.
In April, Sam Amick and John Hollinger of The Athletic reported executives around the NBA were expecting him to re-sign with the Clippers. As a 10-year veteran, he will be eligible for the 35 percent max extension worth at least $39,344,970 per season.
Obviously, things can change when other teams get into the bidding. ESPN's Brian Windhorst named the Miami Heat as a possible destination for Leonard in March.