Lakers News: Kobe Bryant Thinks Kawhi Leonard Wanted ‘Challenge’ Of Winning Without LeBron James
Kobe Bryant Doesn’t Feel Kawhi Leonard Signing With Clippers Was A ‘slight’ At Lakers
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

After the Anthony Davis trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, the Los Angeles Lakers had their sights on a super team when they chased Kawhi Leonard in free agency.

That ultimately didn’t end up happening with Leonard instead signing with the Los Angeles Clippers, who also completed the Paul George trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers were able to rebound and still put together a solid roster, and they will now see how they stack up against the Clippers as they face them on Opening Night.

Kobe Bryant, who has a close relationship with Leonard, attempted to explain why he feels the 28-year-old picked the Clippers, according to Arash Markazi of Los Angeles Times:

“I’m sure Kawhi wants to take the challenge of winning independent of playing with LeBron,” Bryant said. “Maybe that was the same for P.G. I think they relish the challenge of taking on something new. I don’t think it was a slight at the Lakers. It was more about circumstances and what was already here in L.A. and on the Lakers, and they wanted to take the challenge of building something new.

Bryant then went on to add that Lakers fans should still feel confident about their team, even without Leonard:

“But the Lakers did OK. I saw a lot of Lakers fans were very disappointed, and rightfully so, that they didn’t get Kawhi. But you did get Anthony Davis. The Lakers have two freaks of nature. They’re going to be fine. It’s a hell of a time to be in L.A.”

Bryant is right the Lakers still have a quality roster that includes Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley and others in addition to Davis and LeBron James.

They did pass on a lot of other quality free agents to maintain cap space for Leonard, so it will be interesting to see if that ends up costing them a chance at winning their 17th championship in June.

George and Kuzma will both be missing the first matchup, but both should be able to return before the two Los Angeles teams meet for a second time on Christmas Day.

Regardless of who wins the first game, there will rightfully still be a lot of unanswered questions until that second meeting.

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