The Sports Report: Kawhi Leonard returns to the Clippers for $176 million

Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: Kawhi Leonard is returning to the Clippers on a four-year maximum contract, tying himself to the franchise long term.

Leonard, an unrestricted free agent, agreed to return to the team last week while still working out the terms of his contract. A person with knowledge of the contract said Thursday that the fourth year is a player option; he will earn $176 million over the length of the deal.


The final season runs through 2024-25, the same season the Clippers hope to open their proposed arena in Inglewood that carries a privately financed budget of $1.8 billion. Leonard’s deal also is equal in length to that of teammate Paul George, potentially keeping the All-Star duo together for years. By choosing this contract structure, Leonard will earn the maximum allowed under the league’s collective bargaining agreement. But he still didn’t take options that would have secured him more money.

Had he exercised his $36 million player option for next season, he could have then added a four-year extension worth around $187 million. Had he declined his player option and re-signed on a two-year contract with another player option, he could have re-signed a five-year contract next summer, worth $235 million.


Can Kawhi Leonard recover from surgery in time to help Clippers next season?

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.


Mike DiGiovanna on the Dodgers: The excessive heat warnings in Citizens Bank Park, where the combination of mid-90s temperatures and 60% humidity created a heat index of 104 degrees, did not extend to the Dodgers’ bat rack.

An offense that produced 13 runs and 24 hits, including four homers, in the first two games of the series went cold in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies before a sweaty crowd of 26,122 on Thursday.


The Dodgers mustered only three hits off Phillies starter Ranger Suarez and four relievers, two of them infield singles, and went hitless after Austin Barnes’ one-out single in the fifth, their four-game win streak coming to an end.

Spot-starter Mitch White gave up two runs and three hits in four innings, and relievers Alex Vesia, Phil Bickford, Justin Bruihl and Kenley Jansen each threw scoreless innings, capping a superb series in which the bullpen combined for 14 2/3 scoreless innings. The Phillies managed only four hits themselves on Thursday.


Bill Plaschke: Dodgers may be running out of time to catch the Giants


Jack Harris on the Angels: Earlier this season, Shohei Ohtani’s pitching starts were riveting affairs — for better or worse.

The right-hander, then struggling with his fastball command, would walk a lot of batters, get into tricky jams, then escape with wicked splitters and wipeout sliders. He limited damage, though struggled to work very deep into games. He was pitching well, but still had room to grow.

Lately, Ohtani’s recent starts have become almost routine — in all the best ways.

He works quickly, benefitting from improved command with the four-seamer and an increasingly effective cutter. He stays out of trouble, issuing walks to fewer than 4% of batters since the start of July. And he makes quality starts (at least six innings, no more than three earned runs) look easy, pitching his fifth straight on Thursday in the Angels’ 6-3 win against the Toronto Blue Jays.



Sam Farmer on the NFL: They arrived in Los Angeles in the hopes of building something special.

They left in dejection and disappointment.

Now, Jared Goff and Anthony Lynn are ready for a reboot, primed to redefine themselves with the Detroit Lions, a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game in 30 years.

Goff is the quarterback the Rams swapped for Detroit’s Matthew Stafford. Lynn was the first head coach of the relocated Los Angeles Chargers but was fired in January, less than a year after signing a contract extension. He’s now the Lions’ offensive coordinator, his future tied to a quarterback with whom he once shared space in SoFi Stadium.

“I’ve never been fired before in my life, so it took me a little while to get over that,” Lynn told the Los Angeles Times last week after a training camp practice.

“I was going to take a gap year. Ever since I was 6 years old, I haven’t done anything but football. Then this opportunity came up. I had made my mind up that I was staying out this year. But I said, ‘Hey, I can do this.’ ”


Three knee surgeries later, Rams rookie running back Jake Funk appears ready to rumble



Ryan Kartje on Pac-12 football: The Pac-12 announced Thursday that any conference team “unable to play a contest through its own fault” this season will be forced to forfeit. New Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff will ultimately make the decision.

Any forfeited contest will be considered a loss for the team at fault.

The policy marks a return to the conference’s long-standing rules on forfeiture. But with COVID-19 likely to impact college football through 2021, the rule could come into play this season far more than before.

Last season, the Pac-12 was forced to step in and declare USC’s critical November matchup with Colorado a no-contest after three positive COVID-19 cases left the Trojans without the necessary number of players to field its offensive line. Under the current policy, USC would have forfeited the game, and Colorado likely would have gone on to represent the Pac-12 South in the conference championship game.


Robert Gauthier on photographing the Olympics: Photographing the Olympics is a uniquely challenging experience. The variety of sports, venues, athletes and shooting positions compels photographers to dig deep into their metaphorical toolboxes to create impactful images.

Witnessing humans experience their greatest highs or deepest disappointments multiple times a day ratchets up the intensity of our shooting sessions. Capturing such a moment effectively in a single image is my job. And, spoiler alert, it’s fun!

Without going into the minutiae of shuttle buses, crowded sidelines, television camera operators blocking our views of the athletes, the Tokyo Olympics was like none of the others I have covered. No fans in the stands, the unseen threat of the coronavirus cast a heavy pall over the competition.


But the competitive spirit of the athletes and the determination of the local staff and volunteers won out. This collection of photos represents my visual journey. Whereas I usually plan thoughtfully before each event, I came into these Games open-minded and let the moments come to me: a sort of search for predicted outcomes and styled images.

To see Gauthier’s amazing photos, click here.


1919 — Upset scores a win against Man o’ War in the Sanford Memorial Stakes at Saratoga. The defeat is Big Red’s only loss in 21 starts.

1933 — Gene Sarazen wins the PGA Championship by defeating Willie Goggin 5 and 4 in the final round.

1935 — The first roller derby begins in Chicago by promoter Leo Seltzer.

1979 — Lou Brock of the St. Louis Cardinals reaches 3,000 career hits with an infield hit off Chicago Cubs pitcher Dennis Lamp.

1987 — Jackie Joyner-Kersee equals the world record in the women’s long jump — 24 feet, 5½ inches — in the Pan American Games at Indianapolis. She matches the mark set in 1986 by Heike Dreschler of East Germany.


1995 — Cuba’s Ana Quirot, severely burned in a 1993 kitchen accident, wins the 800 meters at the world championships at Gothenburg, Sweden.

1995 — Steve Elkington shoots a final-round 64 and birdies the first playoff hole to beat Colin Montgomerie and win the PGA Championship. The 64 is the lowest final round by a PGA Championship winner.

1997 — Wilson Kipketer topples Sebastian Coe’s 16-year-old record in the 800 meters, finishing in 1 minute, 41.24 seconds in Zurich, Switzerland. Haile Gebrselassie also shatters his own 5,000 record with a time of 12 minutes, 41.86 seconds.

2002 — Natalie Coughlin breaks the 100-meter backstroke world record, timed in 59.58 seconds at the U.S. national championships. She is the first American to hold the world record since Catherine Ferguson in 1966.

2008 — Michael Phelps swims into history as the winningest Olympic athlete with his 10th and 11th career gold medals and five world records in five events at the Beijing Games. He wins the 200-meter butterfly and swims leadoff for the U.S. 800 freestyle relay team.

2016 — The U.S. women’s 4x100-meter medley relay team of Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Dana Vollmer and Simone Manuel — winners at the Rio Games — delivers the nation’s 1,000th gold medal in Summer Olympics history. Michael Phelps closes the Rio Olympics with a gold medal in the butterfly leg of the 4x100 medley relay. Phelps finishes his career with 28 medals, having won five golds and a silver at these games.


And finally

Lou Brock gets his 3,000th hit. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.