“First, it was, ‘Well I was misdiagnosed.’ Look here: You got $18 million this year, and you think that they’re trying to rush you? You didn’t play for the most part a full season this year. And you’re the go-to guy, you’re the franchise and you want to say that they didn’t have your best interest at heart? Are you kidding me?…
“I think he’s getting bad advice,” Bowen said. “I think what you’re starting to see now is an individual given a certain amount of advice, and it’s not the right advice. Here it is: You were protected in San Antonio. You were able to come up during a time where you still could lean on Tim [Duncan] Tony [Parker] and Manu [Ginobili]…
“As a player, if I’m a leader of a team, my team goes on the road in the playoffs, I’m with my guys,” he said. “Because that’s what it’s all about. It’s about camaraderie. It’s about fellowship. It’s a brotherhood. When that didn’t happen, it’s all kinds of sirens and alarm signals that says to me, ‘Is this person fully vested?’ … I don’t want to take on a player who’s not willing to support his guys during the course of their time needing him.”
As a former San Antonio player, those comments weren’t earth-shattering. David Robinson also publicly discussed Leonard in an unflattering light.
But as an analyst on Clippers telecasts, Bowen crossed a line.
Bowen was under contract with Fox Sports West, but the Clippers — like every organization — have significant input into the hiring of television broadcast talents and withheld approval on extending his contract, sources said.
The sides were expected to move forward on a new deal before Bowen’s public comments on Leonard, sources said.
Leonard is primarily interested in signing with the Lakers or Clippers in July, league sources tell ESPN.
Whether Leonard prefers the Clippers or Lakers depends whom you ask.
But the Clippers want Leonard. They can easily clear max cap space next summer – and maybe even open enough room for a second max player. Leonard could vault the Clippers right into title contention if everything breaks right.
He reportedly wants to be treated like a star, and this is the ultimate star treatment – a team accommodating him on the mere hope of signing him.
Bowen was expendable enough for the Clippers to send this signal to Leonard.