In perhaps the most important offseason in team history, general manager Rob Pelinka and the Los Angeles Lakers have made two significant moves heading into free agency.
While there have been conflicting reports about the team’s ability to sign an All-Star player, the Lakers are giving themselves a chance with the Anthony Davis trade with the New Orleans Pelicans and creating a max-contract slot.
As Pelinka and the Lakers are aiming for a third All-Star player, all of the attention is naturally on Kawhi Leonard.
Shortly after the Lakers-Washington Wizards trade, Leonard reportedly ‘intends to grant’ them a meeting to begin free agency, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
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.
And right now, Leonard is ‘seriously considering’ signing with the Lakers, according to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN:
“I have received the word that Kawhi Leonard is seriously considering the Los Angeles Lakers.”
When Leonard initially requested a trade from the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers reportedly were his preferred destination — especially once LeBron James signed. However, the narrative changed to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Through all of the conflicting reports, Leonard’s desire to play in Los Angeles has been the one constant. Since the Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA Finals, it will be interesting to see how that impacts his decision.
With Marc Gasol reportedly accepting his player option for the 2019-20 NBA season, Danny Green is the only major free agent for the Raptors. As a result, Leonard may want the opportunity to defend the championship with them.
On the other hand, Leonard delivering the Raptors their first championship does potentially give him an out.
After only playing nine games during the 2017-18 season with the Spurs due to injury, Leonard has re-established himself as one of the top three players in the league today.
If Leonard ultimately signs with the Lakers, they will have argubly three of the top five players and will be heavily favored to win it all for at least the next 2-3 seasons.