Why Steve Ballmer Is Aggressively Re-Signing The Clippers Stars

Steve Ballmer, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, has been on a mission to secure his team’s future. His latest move? Re-signing the team’s star player, Kawhi Leonard. This move is seen as a strategic step towards ensuring the Clippers’ success in the forthcoming seasons, and for ownership to fill the seats at their new home, the Intuit Dome in Inglewood, California.

The New Deal with Kawhi Leonard

Leonard inked a three-year contract extension recently. This deal was worth a whopping $153 million, and is actually considered team-friendly. Leonard, making ~$51 million a year, took a deal that can enhance the Clippers’ opportunities to retain other high-profile players on the roster.

Under the new deal, Leonard will earn $52 million next season and a total of $100 million over the next two years. His contract does not include a player option, which means he is committed to the LA Clippers until at least the 2026-27 season.

The Clippers’ organization expressed their delight at continuing their partnership with Leonard. Lawrence Frank, the Clippers president of basketball operations, lauded Leonard as an elite player, a fantastic partner, and an unyielding worker who prioritizes winning.

This season, Leonard has averaged 24 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists through 33 games. Meanwhile, George has averaged 23.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.8 assists in his 35 appearances. Harden has averaged 17.3 points, 8.4 assists, and 4.8 rebounds through 32 games.

Leonard’s contract extension is viewed as a significant move to secure the future of the team; and Leonard believes that it enhances the chances of re-signing both George and Harden.

The Clippers’ Future Home: Intuit Dome

The Clippers’ future looks bright as they prepare to move into their new arena, the Intuit Dome, in Inglewood. The team announced their move from the Crypto.com Arena in downtown LA to their new home near SoFi Stadium and the Kia Forum. Steve Ballmer, who’s been very enthusiastic since purchasing the Clippers, has always been ambitious to build an arena of his own. When the doors finally open, it’s another step further from the Clippers being the Lakers little brother. 

The Intuit Dome is scheduled to open ahead of the 2024-25 NBA season. A unique feature Ballmer can brag about is a special section known as “The Wall,” intended solely for the most dedicated Clippers fans. This section, located on the baseline adjacent to the visitor’s bench, has 51 uninterrupted rows. The only rules? You can’t cheer or wear the opposing teams gear. I wonder what the repercussions will be for those who dare violate the rules but we will have to wait and find out.

Steve Ballmer’s Vision for The Clippers

Steve Ballmer’s proactive moves to secure the team’s star players coincide with the Clippers’ impending move to the Intuit Dome. Ballmer is eager to ensure that his team has star power when the new arena opens its doors.

The worst-case scenario for Ballmer would be to witness his Clippers become irrelevant again after spending billions on constructing the new arena and failing to attract fans. This is where the significance of securing Kawhi first, and then shortening this Summer’s NBA Free Agent list. That’s where you will see 2-3 year extensions for both Paul George, and James Harden come into play.

The Importance of Retaining Paul George

Paul George is the next deal that Steve Ballmer is keen on retaining. Like Leonard, George is in the final year of his contract. Unless he signs an extension, he could technically explore his options in free agency. All eyes would be on the Clippers, especially if their future playoff run ends sourly. 

George got traded to the LA Clippers in what was a wild summer of 2019 to form this duo with Kawhi Leonard. Leonard reportedly wanted an assurance from Ballmer’s staff that the LA Clippers would get George. They were expected to make the team legitimate championship contenders, but haven’t been able to get to the NBA Finals in almost four seasons together. Given this context, it’s likely that George could get the same deal as Leonard. To retain one of the NBA’s elite players, Ballmer might have to pay somewhere in the vicinity of Leonard’s contract. Given the deep pockets Ballmer has, the only thing that stops this man is the NBA’s salary cap. 

What’s Next for the Clippers?

With focus now shifting to George’s potential contract extension, Lawrence Frank will have to make some tough decisions after that in regards to building a formidable roster that can claim the Clippers first NBA Championship. 

Despite the challenges, at least the immediate future looks bright for the Clippers, as they are the fourth seed in the Western Conference. With the opening of the new Intuit Dome on the horizon, Steve Ballmer’s vision for the Los Angeles Clippers still has some serious strides to take shape.


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