This was always going to be quick, and Kawhi Leonard was always going to get the max.
Just minutes after the NBA free agency floodgates opened, Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs shook hands on a maximum contract extension from his rookie deal, something Leonard confirmed to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
After the San Antonio Spurs presented an offer of a maximum contract extension to his representatives, star forward Kawhi Leonard has agreed to the framework of a five-year deal that could be worth in excess of $90 million, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
“I have every intention of signing with the San Antonio Spurs,” Leonard said in a statement. “There are details in the contract which need to be worked out with the organization. I am confident that this will be accomplished.”
Those details pertain to exactly how big the contract will be based on the finalized numbers, plus any potential opt-outs for Leonard.
Leonard is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year plus has become a central cog of the Spurs offense, averaging 16.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Don’t expect Leonard to put pen to paper and sign this deal for a little while. The reason is to give the Spurs more financial room to maneuver as they try to land LaMarcus Aldridge and other free agents. Right now Leonard’s cap hold — the space allotted to his next contract on the official team books — is just over $7 million and it will not increase until Leonard actually signs the deal, and it is submitted to the league. The Spurs and Leonard have until late October to do that, so they can take their time and leave the millions of dollars of cap space open to help lure free agents. The Spurs are allowed to exceed the cap to re-sign their own player (Leonard) under the “Bird rights” rules.
Leonard being locked in as part of the future of that franchise — along with having Tony Parker for a few more years, and Gregg Popovich — is going to be attractive to free agents who want to win.