During Kawhi Leonard’s week-long decision to eventually sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, and all parties involved stayed quiet.
While there were not many leaks during this process, former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson revealed Leonard’s camp did reach out to him regarding the Lakers.
As Johnson provided more details about his meeting with Leonard’s camp, there were concerns about how it would impact the latter considering how he operates.
Now, a person involved in the Leonard process believes Johnson hurt the team’s chances of signing Leonard, according to Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic:
“I truly believe that when Magic started telling the media about the meeting he had with Kawhi and Dennis, that sealed the fate of the Lakers,” a person involved in the process told The Athletic. “I think that right there was when Dennis and Kawhi decided we can’t trust the Lakers as an organization. And that was it. I think that was it for them.”
And a front office executive explained how important discretion was to Leonard, according to Buha and Amick:
“If you [expletive] this up, you’re done, you’re out,” one front-office executive involved in the process explained to The Athletic. “They didn’t say that, but that was the message. It was basically, ‘Look, we would appreciate discretion.’ Which means, ‘Keep your [expletive] mouth shut.’”
As the Lakers reportedly feel they ‘got played’ by Leonard, they still made the right decision by waiting for one of the top-three players in the league right now — at worst.
Although the Lakers may have missed out on some potential targets by waiting, it was a blessing in disguise as most of them received some questionable deals.
Shortly after Leonard’s decision, Los Angeles recovered nicely and were still able to sign DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, and Quinn Cook in free agency.
While a Big 3 of Leonard, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis would have dominated the league, there is finally parity for the first time in five seasons. Despite numerous teams having two All-Star players now, James and Davis are arguably the most talented for the 2019-20 NBA season.