Since Kawhi Leonard’s week-long decision to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers over the Los Angeles Lakers, there are new details emerging about the entire process now.
Although the Lakers reportedly felt they ‘got played’ by Leonard, they still recovered nicely a week into free agency.
And now, a person close to the situation believes former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson’s role in providing details ultimately hurt the team’s chances.
While there were concerns about Johnson, it appears Leonard did not want to join a super team, according to Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic:
On a fundamental level, the idea of forming a Big Three with James and Davis didn’t appeal to Leonard’s core sensibilities. He forged his legacy taking down super teams — like the 2014 Miami Heat and the 2019 Golden State Warriors — rather than joining them.
Because of this mindset, Leonard was not signing with a team that had both LeBron James and Anthony Davis:
“Elite players like Kawhi earn their stripes, and he was not going to be a guy who joins a so-called ‘super team,’” one source close to the situation told Charania. “Now, if a super team forms around him, there is nothing he can control. The Clippers were the best long-term fit.”
At the end of the day, no one knew what Leonard was going to do in free agency. While there was plenty of speculation, the Paul George trade helped the Clippers sign Leonard.
As there will continue to be new details about Leonard’s decision leading up to the 2019-20 NBA season, the Lakers are still in a good position with two All-Star players.
Despite concerns about missing out on targets by waiting on Leonard’s decision, Los Angeles quickly pivoted to free agents like DeMarcus Cousins and Danny Green.
In a time when numerous teams had significant cap space to utilize, it may have worked out in the team’s favor.
Instead of signing role players to questionable deals, the Lakers were able to sign them to two-year deals and for below their true market value. As a result, some of the attention has been on 2021 NBA free agency now.