Through the first eight seasons of his career, Kawhi Leonard had one constant with him in Danny Green.
The two were teammates for seven seasons with the San Antonio Spurs and were traded together to the Toronto Raptors. As a result, it only makes sense that Green’s free agency was directly linked to that of Leonard’s and the Los Angeles Lakers were right in the middle.
Leonard was the top target for the Lakers this summer and they put everything else on hold in their pursuit as they waited on his decision. The biggest of those names was Green who decided to wait on the biggest domino to fall before making his decision unlike most of the other top role players this summer.
It was a difficult balance that had to be handled by general manager Rob Pelinka who believes the strength of his relationships was a major factor in his dealings with Green.
“I think it all comes down to relationships. Again, relationship glue in this business is so important to getting things done,” Pelinka said during a conference call. “Him and Joe (Branch, Green’s agent), were just in constant contact with us and just did a great job in weighing their options.”
The widespread belief is that had Leonard decided to return to the Raptors, Green would’ve joined him in trying to defend their championship. But once Leonard decided to join the Clippers, Green made his choice to join the Lakers — a place that obviously appealed to him considering the opportunity to play next to two All-Star players.
“Danny was extraordinarily excited about the possibility of playing here. And frankly, most of the guys we started discussions with saw the excitement and were willing to be patient because of the opportunity to compete on the Lakers’ platform and make a title run,” Pelinka added. “That’s the goal here every year.”
“I could go through every player and their representative, staying in close touch with them and kind of going into the process together, made it easy. I think it was transparent, it was open, it was direct.”
Many likely Lakers targets decided to sign early, leaving them with some limited options. However, Pelinka was able to put together a roster that can compete with any team in the league and has championship aspirations. The Lakers general manager has come under scrutiny this summer, but his style and negotiations have put together a very promising roster.