Just how far would they go?
The Los Angeles Clippers are said to have quietly looked into the feasibility of purchasing the portion of the rights to Leonard’s “Klaw” logo that is still owned by Nike. The Clippers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday, but such an acquisition would theoretically enable them to bestow full control of the logo upon Leonard as part of their anticipated free-agency pitch meeting with the Toronto superstar.
Nike, as emphasized to me recently by a top official from the sportswear giant, is intent on rebuffing all approaches and retaining its rights to that logo for as long as it can — to assure that it would not appear on gear made by Leonard’s new contract partners at New Balance.
This would be clear salary-cap circumvention. The Clippers would never get away with it, even if they offered Nike enough money to change the company’s mind.
Ultimately, I’m unconvinced the Clippers ever took this latest idea seriously. It strikes me as the type of juicy story people around the league, knowing the desperation the Clippers have shown in pursuing Leonard, want to believe and spread. It’s also possible someone within the large Clippers organization suggested the idea then learned of the infeasibility.
If the Clippers actually intended to execute this plan this summer, I’d be surprised.
Of course, the Clippers could still lure Leonard, anyway. But the Raptors – who open the NBA Finals tomorrow – are making their best case.