As Kawhi Leonard prepares for the 2019 NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers and other teams are hoping he does not re-sign with the Toronto Raptors.
While it is difficult to see Leonard not re-signing with a championship contender, the one constant has been his desire to play in Los Angeles.
Although there remains conflicting reports, the narrative has shifted from Leonard wanting to play for the Lakers to the Los Angeles Clippers now.
With the Clippers having two max-contract slots, they have ‘quietly looked into’ buying the rights to Nike’s ‘Klaw’ logo as part of their free agency pitch to Leonard on June 30, according to Marc Stein of New York Times:
The Los Angeles Clippers are said to have quietly looked into the feasibility of purchasing the portion of the rights to Leonard’s “Klaw” logo that is still owned by Nike. The Clippers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday, but such an acquisition would theoretically enable them to bestow full control of the logo upon Leonard as part of their anticipated free-agency pitch meeting with the Toronto superstar.
As for the Lakers, LeBron James reportedly has already spoken to Leonard about teaming up in Los Angeles, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
“From what I understand, he has already begun the recruiting process. I’ve heard he has had contact with Kawhi Leonard. I’ve heard he’s had contact with Jimmy Butler.”
While Leonard’s uncle shared his nephew is only focused on the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers should already be planning out their pitch to him.
Although there were concerns about Leonard’s health heading into the 2018-19 NBA season, he has quickly re-established himself as one of the top three players in the league right now — at the very worst. After averaging 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds in the regular season, the 27-year-old has taken it to another level by averaging 31.2 points and 8.8 rebounds in the playoffs.
With a month before free agency begins, the hope is there is no more drama surrounding the Lakers. While it is unclear how this will impact the team’s offseason, there is still an opportunity to play with LeBron James, a talented young core, and the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
As James dominates the headlines, it may be an ideal situation for Leonard to be able to fly under the radar while still playing in Los Angeles.