When the Toronto Raptors traded for Kawhi Leonard last summer, it was with the understanding he may amount to nothing more than a one-year rental. Amid reports of Leonard’s apprehension over playing in Toronto, the team set out to change his perception.
As the expectation of Leonard declining his player option for the 2019-20 NBA season loomed, the Raptors went on to post the best record in the league. They capped off a magical season by defeating the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals.
It not only was the Raptors’ first title in franchise history but it represented a personal vindication for Leonard, as he faced criticism over his departure from the San Antonio Spurs.
Once Leonard formally declined his player option, it was reported he would meet with the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Raptors. According to Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of Los Angeles Times, Leonard’s camp is considering including general manager Rob Pelinka in the meeting now:
While Leonard’s camp had initially requested that only Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss be present from the Lakers’ front office, they are now considering expanding the meeting to include Pelinka.
In addition, former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson reportedly had a ‘positive’ conversation with Leonard and his uncle:
Magic Johnson spoke with Leonard and his uncle, Dennis Roberston, on Sunday, Johnson told The Times. According to people familiar with the discussion, they had a positive conversation about the direction of the Lakers.
It was previously reported Leonard’s camp sought out Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and Magic Johnson. That was followed by an indication that LeBron James and Anthony Davis would also meet with Leonard.
It was unclear if that would take place over separate meetings or jointly, though NBA rules prohibit Johnson from being part of an official meeting between the Lakers and Leonard.
If the Lakers are successful in signing the two-time NBA Finals MVP, it would give them the greatest trio ever assembled. It would also complete a two-year plan the Lakers set out on as they hoped to again become title contenders.