In the aftermath of critical comments about 2019 free agent target Kawhi Leonard, Bruce Bowen won't be renewed as the LA Clippers television game analyst next season, sources told ESPN.
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, sources said.
The sides were expected to move forward on a new deal before Bowen's public comments on Leonard, sources said. Bowen declined comment when reached on Monday.
The decision to part ways with Bowen -- a three-time NBA champion with the Spurs who had his No. 12 jersey retired -- speaks to the high-stakes repercussions surrounding the NBA's star-studded 2019 free agency class. For the Clippers, eliminating Bowen becomes a clear message about how it plans to protect star players within the organization.
Before the Toronto Raptors traded with San Antonio for Leonard in July, the Clippers tried to acquire him and plan to be aggressive suitors for Leonard in 2019 free agency. Leonard is primarily interested in signing with the Lakers or Clippers in July, league sources tell ESPN.
"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?"
"I think he's getting bad advice," Bowen told Sirius. "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 Clippers could have the salary cap space available to sign two max contract free agents in 2019, and could try to recruit Leonard and another star on max contracts.
The Clippers hired Bowen to partner with legendary play-by-play man Ralph Lawler before the 2017-2018 season, replacing longtime analyst Michael Smith.