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Clippers fire announcer who publicly criticized Kawhi Leonard: report

Kawhi Leonard could be heading to L.A. next year. | Eric Gay/AP Photo

Bruce Bowen won’t be retained as game analyst for the Clippers’ television coverage after he made public comments criticizing upcoming free agent Kawhi Leonard, reports ESPN. The move underscores the lengths teams are going to in order to prepare for the 2019 free agent class, which includes Leonard among other big names.

“Bowen was under contract with Fox Sports West, but the Clippers — like every organization — have significant input into the hiring of television broadcast talents and withheld approval on extending his contract,” according to ESPN.

The Clippers tried to trade for Leonard, who has one year left on his contract, before the Raptors acquired the former Spurs forward in July. Leonard reportedly prefers to sign with the Clippers or Lakers next year given his desire to play in Los Angeles, so the former didn’t want to anything to risk his potential interest.

Bowen criticized Leonard recently over his handling of an injury-marred 2017-18 season with the Spurs and subsequent departure from San Antonio.

“I think there’s nothing but excuses going on,” Bowen told Sirius XM Radio on June 22. “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 replaced Michael Smith as the Clippers’ color commentator before the 2017-18 season. He played 13 seasons in the NBA (eight with the Spurs), won three championships and earned All-Defensive Team honors eight times. The Spurs retired his No. 12 jersey in 2012, although Bowen granted LaMarcus Aldridge permission to wear it after he was acquired in 2015.