With Kevin Durant likely to miss all of the 2019-20 NBA season, many would consider Kawhi Leonard the biggest prize in free agency this summer.
It is believed the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers are the favorites to land him, but the Los Angeles Lakers have maintained a belief they have a chance at him.
The most recent rumors would seem to confirm the team’s thoughts in holding an outside chance and with someone of Leonard’s caliber, they would rather have even a small chance than none at all. With their recent addition to the Anthony Davis trade along with him waiving his trade kicker, the Lakers now have the necessary cap space to sign Leonard.
At the very least, the Lakers will get the chance to convince him they are the best landing spot as Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports that Leonard intends to meet with them in Los Angeles when free agency starts:
Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard intends to grant the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers meetings when free agency opens on June 30, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The meetings would be held in Los Angeles, sources said.
Though this guarantees nothing, it does get the Lakers in the room with a chance to convince the reigning NBA Finals MVP to join the Davis, LeBron James, and Kyle Kuzma. There will be plenty of competition, but they at least have a seat at the table and the necessary money to offer.
Leonard has been the hardest of all upcoming free agents to get a read on as he — and his circle — are notoriously quiet. The Raptors and Clippers remain the favorites with the Lakers lingering, but Leonard will meet with a number of teams before making a decision, according to Haynes:
Leonard, who declined his $21.3 million player option to become an unrestricted free agent, plans to meet with a handful of teams — including the Raptors — before making a decision about his future, sources said.
This decision will have a major impact on free agency as a whole and it will also be worth keeping an eye on how long it takes before Leonard makes his decision. If the Lakers wind up waiting too long on Leonard, it could prevent them from landing another All-Star player.
However, in the end, the Lakers have continually believed they’ve had a chance to land Leonard and now they will have a face-to-face opportunity to do so.