After their recent trade to clear cap space, the Lakers have emerged as the L.A. favorite over the Clippers for Kawhi Leonard. The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported that an “increasing number of league insiders” believe the Lakers are the biggest threat in the Raptors attempt to retain the All-Star.
Things change fast in #thisleague: With free agency a day and change away, it’s the Lakers who have convinced Las Vegas — and an increasing number of league insiders — that they are LA’s true threat to limiting Kawhi Leonard’s Raptors career to a single season. Not the Clippers…
How high is the bar for the Clippers now? They might not only have to beat out Toronto … they might have to convince Kevin Durant to choose the Clippers to then convince Kawhi to choose the Clippers over the Lakers. League sources insist that the Laker threat is that significant…
The next week is going to absolutely fascinating on the Kawhi front alone. The Clippers have to beat out the newly minted champions and the lords of Los Angeles. The Lakers, meanwhile, firmly believe they’ve got Toronto (and anyone else) beat in the Kawhi Sweepstakes. #madness
Stein is referencing the Las Vegas NBA championship odds shifting in favor of the Lakers. Action Network reported that Westgate moved the Lakers’ title odds from +250 to +120 to protect itself against Leonard signing with the Lakers.
The Lakers movement continued into the evening on June 28, two days in advance of the official launch of free agency, as rumors swirled that reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard might want to team up with LeBron and Davis in LA. Westgate VP of Risk Management Jeff Sherman told The Action Network’s Darren Rovell that the book moved the Lakers from +250 to +120 not because of big bets, but to protect itself against the chance that Kawhi joins the Lakers.
The Lakers are currently sizable title favorites with +120 odds, while the Bucks are next in line at +700.
Based on League Rules, Magic Johnson Is Not Expected to Be at Kawhi Leonard’s Meeting With the Lakers
There were rumors that Leonard requested Magic Johnson be part of his meeting with the Lakers, but ESPN reported this will not happen as it would be a violation of league rules. Leonard had requested that only owner Jeanie Buss and Johnson attend the meeting.
There is also talk that LeBron James and Anthony Davis would be part of the pitch. With the Davis trade not officially completed, the big man cannot act on the Lakers behalf, per ESPN.
Anthony Davis, whose trade to the Lakers won’t be completed until the moratorium ends, can act only on his own behalf. Davis cannot act as an official representative of the Lakers in a free-agent meeting.
What we do know is Leonard plans on meeting with the Lakers when free agency starts likely in L.A., per NBA reporter Brad Turner. It appears to be a three-team race for Leonard with the Lakers, Clippers and Raptors all mentioned as potential options in the last week.