Kawhi Leonard-LeBron James Pairing Shut Down by Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant Championships rings how many

Getty Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant

Much has been made as of late about where Kevin Durant will play after this NBA season. The popular consensus seems to be that it won’t be with the Golden State Warriors. And based on his comments in a recent interview, he didn’t seem overly-thrilled about the idea of joining LeBron James either. But apparently, Durant sees even less of a fit with LeBron for someone like Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard.

In an interview with Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, Durant addressed the topic of teaming up with James and why it’s not a fit for some players.

“It depends on what kind of player you are,” Durant said. “If you’re Kyle Korver, then it makes sense. Because Kyle Korver in Atlanta was the bulk of the offense, and he’s not a No. 1 option at all, not even close. So his talents benefit more from a guy who can pass and penetrate and get him open.

“If you’re a younger player like a Kawhi, trying to pair him with LeBron James doesn’t really make sense. Kawhi enjoys having the ball in his hands, controlling the offense, dictating the tempo with his post-ups; it’s how he plays the game. A lot of young players are developing that skill. They don’t need another guy.”

It’s an interesting point and especially stands out because it comes from Durant. But Bucher goes on to point out that James may need a player like Leonard at this point in his career. Another player who chimed in to offer a similar sentiment was Phoenix Suns forward Trevor Ariza. In the same story, Ariza told Bucher he can see why players who are similar to James would “want to play elsewhere.”

What Is the Right Fit With LeBron James?

Durant mentioned Kyle Korver as an example of a fit with LeBron, and that pairing unquestionably makes sense. But while trade rumors consistently swirl involving big names coming to the Lakers, or even just future free agent targets for the team, how would it all work? Leonard is a ball-dominant player who can facilitate on his own, and the same can be said about Durant, so those two should realistically be ruled out.

In turn, that would leave the Lakers and their push for another superstar looking at a mid-range target who simply has upside. Or, maybe someone like Bradley Beal who can excel as a shooter and create his own shot if needed. A player such as Beal would not only provide a strong scoring punch, but also the ability to take some of the heavy lifting off LeBron.

Role players including strong defenders, great outside shooters or players capable of providing a scoring punch off the bench have been the typical choices to join James. But the Lakers and entire NBA will likely find out next offseason whether that is set to change moving forward.

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