As the Los Angeles Lakers were preparing to go star chasing in 2018 NBA Free Agency, the saga between Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs was taking on several twists. Upon signing LeBron James to a four-year contract, the Lakers were expected to make an aggressive effort at trading for Leonard.
He would give the team a second All-Star to pair with James, which was speculated as being more of a necessity than the young core. Further supporting the possibility was a belief Leonard had a preference to joining the Lakers or L.A. Clippers.
But the Spurs refused to do business with their longtime Western Conference rival, and ultimately traded Leonard to the Toronto Raptors. After missing their meeting at Staples Center earlier this season, Thursday marked Leonard’s first time playing the Lakers since getting traded.
He finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists in the Raptors’ 111-98 win. But the more intriguing development was a postgame exchange in which James appeared to tell Leonard they will be in touch, which the NBA Instagram account shared to their story.
James’ words to Leonard will undoubtedly fuel free agency speculation. Even if the latest report continued to indicate Leonard is not interested in playing alongside James.
Instead, Leonard reportedly is more inclined to signing with the Clippers this summer. Though, there’s also a growing sense that he has become comfortable with the Raptors and more open to the thought of re-signing than an initial sentiment.