When Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors in 2018, opposing front office teams quickly looked at the forward’s contract. They saw that Leonard only had one year left in his deal and prepared to make their best offer. The Clippers were one of those teams, but unlike others, they went to the extreme in making sure Los Angeles was to Kawhi's liking.
To recall, the root of Leonard’s trade request was his fallout with the San Antonio Spurs. He suffered a quad injury which caused him to miss some time. The Spurs medical staff deemed he was ready to play, but Leonard himself didn’t feel 100%. Around this time, former Spurs defensive specialist Bruce Bowen was a television analyst for the Clippers. He went on a tirade against Leonard in an appearance on Sirius XM.
“I think there’s nothing but excuses going on. 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?” Bowen said, per My San Antonio.
Bowen dropped the comments on June 22, 2018. By mid-August, Bowen revealed that he had been sacked as Clippers’ broadcast analyst.
“It was basically we don’t view your views that way and because of your comments (about) Kawhi Leonard we’ll go our separate way,” Bowen said on the Dan Patrick Show.
Bowen knew exactly what the Clippers did. But in a way, he feels that the Clippers overreacted by firing him. He claims that he was just doing his job as an analyst. Apparently, the Clippers weren’t having any of it.
“I don’t think I’m that powerful where I would be the reason why someone would not want to go to a team. I mean, what are you doing? Are you playing or are you listening? And if you are listening, then listen to the words that are said and receive the constructive criticism because that’s my job, to be critical of someone’s play,” he added.
As we all know, the Clippers were able to lure Kawhi in. Since then, the team has been one of the top contenders in the West. One can view this episode as a lesson in recruitment. If it means kicking someone out of their job, then so be it. Playing dirty is sometimes necessary. Bowen knows this better than most.