Newly crowned NBA Champion Kawhi Leonard may have his eye on Los Angeles if he decides to leave the Toronto Raptors — but it’s not the team you think.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski appeared on “Get Up” on Tuesday morning and reported some new and interesting information about Leonard’s upcoming free agent decision. According to him, there is a Los Angeles team in the running, but it’s not the Los Angeles Lakers — it’s the Los Angeles Clippers.
"The reality is Kawhi Leonard's focused on Los Angeles, but it's the Clippers, not the Lakers. No. 1, they don't have the money to sign him. And two, the idea of him being a third wheel on a team trying to create a superteam, that has not been Kawhi's M.O. The Clippers are poised to be able to lure him from Toronto. This will be a Raptors-Clippers fight down to the end. He may take meetings with more teams; it's not even certain he'd even take a meeting with the Lakers right now."
Kawhi Leonard turning down a meeting with the Lakers seems almost inconceivable, especially since they just added Anthony Davis to a team that already has LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma. Adding Leonard would make the Lakers an automatic playoff favorite.
But if Leonard won’t take a discount (since the Lakers won’t have enough cap space to offer a max deal), and if he doesn’t want to play second or third fiddle to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it’s natural that the Riverside, Calif. native could turn to the other Los Angeles team. The Clippers don’t have the same prestige as the Lakers (or the same playoff outlook), but they do have money. And that counts for something.
But what could count for more is what Toronto offers. Not only do the Raptors want to re-sign Leonard, he just gave them their first championship in franchise history. He was a star there before they beat the Golden State Warriors, but now he’s a bona fide legend and the undisputed face of the franchise, part of a team that will go down in Raptors history. And that team is ready to compete again next year — the only thing missing his him.
Kawhi Leonard is inscrutable, and gave no indication of his future plans during the Raptors’ championship parade on Monday. He may already know what he wants to do, but in true Kawhi form, we’ll probably be the last to know.
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