The chatter surrounding Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard has been about his future free agency essentially since before the season even started. But considering he was rumored to have interest in the Los Angeles Lakers prior to being traded to the Raptors, anything relating to them will grab major attention.
And when the two teams squared off on Thursday night, a moment after the game had social media buzzing. As The Render revealed, courtesy of the NBA’s Instagram account, Lakers star LeBron James was caught saying something to Leonard, which looked quite a bit like “we’ll be in touch.”
It’s tough to peg exactly what James said to Leonard, but it’s hard to argue with the lip-reading from above. If this is what James said, it could mean a number of things, but it still jumped out for obvious reasons. The Lakers are focused on their push to add some star power around LeBron and company this offseason.
But if James and the team’s front office have an interest in trying to make a run at landing Leonard, there may be an issue with that plan.
Kawhi Leonard Doesn’t Want to Join Lakers?
Whether Leonard remains with the Raptors beyond this year or not is anyone’s guess, but there’s chatter that he may not want to join LeBron on the Lakers. As Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells detailed, interesting comments were made on that topic by an ESPN analyst during a recent podcast appearance.
ESPN’s Michael C. Wright joined fellow analyst Brian Windhorst’s podcast and said he doesn’t think Leonard is interested in joining the Lakers.
“I do not,” Wright said. “That’s just what I’ve been told. It’s what I’ve been told going back to last summer. I don’t see that as something that’s happening. I think he goes to the Clippers.”
Kawhi Leonard’s Reported Outlook Prior to Season
The above is a pretty big statement, but not overly surprising based on previous rumblings. This comes after comments made by Shams Charania last summer which RealGM cited. He joined Colin Cowherd on The Herd and made it known that Leonard isn’t “jumping for joy” about the fact that James is in Los Angeles.
“Around Kawhi, it’s been made abundantly clear there’s not an interest to go join a superteam. I don’t think he’s jumping for joy that LeBron James is in L.A. with the Lakers. If anything, that’s going to make him look, maybe more, toward the Clippers because this is a guy that won Finals MVP against LeBron James. You think he’s amped up and wants to join LeBron now? I think that’s been overstated.”
Obviously, a lot can change once the offseason rolls around, and while the Los Angeles Clippers appear to be a popular destination, there’s no guarantee he’ll leave the Raptors. After all, Toronto is playing great and they appear to be a legitimate NBA title contender. If Leonard and the Raptors make an NBA Finals run, that could have a big impact on his decision in free agency.