LA Clippers' Kawhi Leonard says 'best decision' for him will be to likely decline player option

Kawhi Leonard said the "best decision" for him is to likely decline the player option in his contract next summer, but that it doesn't mean that the LA Clippers All-Star is "leaving or staying."

"Just for my situation right now, I'm just focused on this season," Leonard said Monday. "Not saying I'm going anywhere else or staying here, but I'm just focused on the season.

"Obviously, if I'm healthy, the best decision is to decline the player option," Leonard continued. "But that doesn't mean I'm leaving or staying. I'm focused on the season, like I said. We'll talk about that when the time is right."

Opting in would allow Leonard to make $36 million in 2021-22. But opting out would give him the ability to get a substantial raise, allowing him to sign a max contract starting at $39.3 million, according to ESPN Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks.

The Clippers signed Paul George earlier this month to a contract extension that guarantees him as much as $226 million over the next five years.

George, who agreed to a trade to the Clippers from Oklahoma City Thunder in July 2019 so that he could play alongside Leonard while returning home to Los Angeles, said he hoped that Leonard would follow suit and decide to stay with the Clippers long term next summer.

Leonard said he talked with George prior to the guard signing his extension.

"I spoke to Paul, he felt comfortable here," said Leonard, who grew up in nearby Moreno Valley. "He loves the city, he's obviously from here, so I think from his standpoint, he did a great job of coming to me and telling me how he feels before signing the contract."