Lakers Video: Magic Johnson Believes He Could’ve Gotten Kawhi Leonard In 2019 Free Agency
Magic Johnson, Lakers
(Photo by RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

It was an offseason frenzy during the Summer of 2019. While the Los Angeles Lakers had just finished an underwhelming season with an injured LeBron James, the hopes of acquiring former New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis and sign former Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard via free agency were the major storylines for the Purple and Gold.

Former Lakes President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson played a huge role in getting James to L.A. the summer before. However, Johnson unexpectedly stepped down from his role at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, leaving Rob Pelinka in charge of the Lakers front office.

In a clip from Showtime’s All The Smoke’s upcoming interview with Johnson, the Hall of Fame point guard discussed his plan to bring Leonard to L.A. and how he would have closed the deal on a contract for the two-time NBA champion:

Although the Lakers won a championship with James and Davis without Leonard, the impact Johnson left on the franchise before he resigned from his executive position in the 2018-19 season was on full display that summer when Leonard chose the Clippers in free agency.

The Lakers faithful would have loved for someone of Leonard’s caliber to suit up for the Purple and Gold. However, things worked out OK as the Lakers put together a championship-caliber roster while Leonard has struggled to stay healthy and the Clippers have still yet to reach the NBA Finals.

Bryant believes he and Davis playing together would be ‘special’

It’s the next-man-up mentality when a team leader goes down with an injury. With the Lakers lack of size and frontcourt depth, Darvin Ham looked to Thomas Bryant to be the starting center with Davis sidelined with a foot injury.

Bryant has been on a tear while Davis has been out, by averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds on over 60% shooting from the field over the last 14 games. While the Lakers wait for their superstar big man to return, Bryant believes that he and the eight-time NBA All-Star playing together would be ‘special.’

A frontcourt duo that features size and pick-and-roll threats for playmakers like James to be excited for would certainly be a plus for a Lakers team that needs to go on a roll before the 2023 All-Star break. It remains to be seen when Davis will return, but he is reportedly making progress and beginning to ramp things up.

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