Kawhi Leonard extension delivers severe blow to dream Pacers plan

By signing an extension with the LA Clippers, Kawhi Leonard may have just put a nail in the coffin of a dream plan for the Indiana Pacers.
Indiana Pacers, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George
Indiana Pacers, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

The Indiana Pacers are a solid team this year. With the emergence of Tyrese Haliburton as a top point guard in the NBA, they should easily be a Play-In team, and potentially a playoff squad, by the end of the regular season.

But with Haliburton on track to be a perennial All-NBA candidate, the Pacers should, and almost certainly do, have higher hopes. The playoffs shouldn’t be the goal - a title should be.

With that in mind, they should be constantly searching for opportunities to add talent to their roster next to Haliburton, whether it be via trade or in free agency.

Recently, Kawhi Leonard signed a massive extension to remain with the LA Clippers. At first glance, that has nothing to do with the Pacers, but a deeper look reveals a potential gut punch to a dream Indiana scenario.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Clippers are also having ongoing talks with Paul George about a potential extension, as they want to keep both stars in the city long-term.

“The Clippers extension talks with Paul George are ongoing and [the] organization continues to want to get both stars lined up on longer-term contracts, sources tell ESPN,” Wojnarowski tweeted. “For now, Leonard has agreed on a new deal in a season that he's been healthy and highly productive.”

Leonard, George, and the Clippers have been rolling this year, especially since the addition of James Harden via a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. They’re currently sitting at fourth in the Western Conference.

It’s looking more and more like George is going to return to the Clippers for years to come, and that’s what is going to get in the way of a dream Pacers plan.

If George doesn’t extend, he could decline his player option this summer and look for max money. The Pacers could clear some cap and be in a position to sign him to a deal, bringing him back to Indiana.

George has spoken at length in the past about his respect for Haliburton and his love for the city of Indiana, making the idea of a potential return a bit more believable, though unlikely.

In an ideal world, bringing George back to Indiana would be a dream. He fits perfectly next to Haliburton as an elite 3-and-D wing and shot-creator.

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Unfortunately, with Leonard extending in LA, it looks like he’ll be heading back, too. A bummer for Pacers fans who have been speculating about the idea for a while now.