It took nearly a week of 2019 NBA free agency, but Kawhi Leonard ultimately signed with the Los Angeles Clippers over the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors.
As the Clippers were viewed as the frontrunner, the narrative changed to the Lakers once they traded for Anthony Davis and maintained a max-contract slot ideally for him.
With the Lakers quickly pivoting to Plan B, there are new details emerging about Leonard’s decision now.
Leonard’s camp reportedly asked the Lakers to delay the Davis trade two hours before he ultimately signed with the Clippers, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
Much will be made of the Lakers and Raptors end of this. But as of about 2 hours before Leonard chose the Clippers Friday night, his camp was asking the Lakers to delay the AD trade until Sat/Sun, sources tell ESPN. No reason given. Just a condition.
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 6, 2019
While it is unclear what happened during those two hours, the Clippers traded for Paul George shortly after Leonard’s decision, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Oklahoma City is trading All-Star Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for a record-setting collection of draft choices, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 6, 2019
As free agency progressed, there was growing optimism for the Lakers as the Clippers were unable to sign that second All-Star player to lure Leonard. However, they were able to do so once George surprisingly requested a trade.
With Leonard deciding not to create a Big 3 with Davis and LeBron James, the landscape of the NBA has changed for the first time in five seasons. In addition, there is balance which should set up an exciting 2019-20 NBA season.
While the Lakers were unable to sign one of the three best players in the league, they have since split up their $32 million cap space for Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, and Quinn Cook so far.
Along with building depth, DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Morris are still available for the Lakers to sign now.