Kawhi Leonard wasn’t happy to be in San Antonio. Now, he’s not happy to be in Toronto. Regardless of his feelings, he’ll be stuck in Canada for the foreseeable future on a year-long recruiting pitch, all while he’s seemingly got his sights set on his hometown of Los Angeles. As Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported in June, he prefers the Lakers. That hasn’t stopped the Clippers from being so desperate to sign Leonard that they were, according to Wojnarowski, quick to get rid of local color commentator Bruce Bowen just because Bowen said some mildly critical things about Leonard.
According to Woj, the team got all rattled after Bowen went on the radio and sent some light criticism in Leonard’s direction. At the time, Bowen was in the process of renewing his contract with Fox Sports West, but that all got scuttled when the Clippers refused to approve the extension. Woj’s sources describe the Clippers’ decision as a consequence of Bowen’s comments about Leonard.
Below are the comments Bowen made on Sirius XM radio that apparently got the Clippers feeling so skittish:
“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?
“I think he’s getting bad advice. 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).”
The fact that the sports media is structured in such a way that allows the Clippers to have so much influence over an editorial decision like this is it’s own problem, and tells you all you need to know about how seriously you should take your regional sports network’s coverage. But the real takeaway here is just how desperate this makes the Clippers look. Leonard’s free agency is still a whole year away, and yet the Clippers were so scared of some offhanded comments chipping away at their already minuscule shot at signing Leonard that they effectively shitcanned Bowen. Don’t be surprised if Kawhi’s Uncle Dennis ends up getting a role on Fox Sports West’s commentary team in the near future.