Lakers Rumors: Clipper Kawhi Leonard Sounds Off on Lakers, Raptors Slander

Kawhi Leonard Clippers Homesick

Getty Kawhi Leonard (R) and Paul George laugh as they listen to Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer speak (not in frame) during their introductory news conference at Green Meadows Recreation Center on July 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

Kawhi Leonard is now a member of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Toronto Raptors, the team he won an NBA Championship with and the Los Angeles Lakers were believed to be the frontrunners.

“If they didn’t want to wait for me, they didn’t have to,” Leonard told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.

“They had a big opportunity to sign me. [The Lakers] were close, but I ended up on the other side.”

Leonard, a two-time NBA Champion became the biggest name in free agency given that Kevin Durant suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the NBA Finals.

Leonard was also heavily linked to the Los Angeles Clippers, the team he ended up signing with.

“I mean if he leaves, my expectation is simply that’s where he’d go,” Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.

“He’s looking at these bombers and he’s looking at a team that from the get go will be built around him and he’s going to be where he wants to be and he’s going to be the centerpiece as much as Toronto has catered to him, it’s a little bit, again, it’s like the uniqueness of LeBron going to Dwyane Wade and joining Dwyane Wade in Miami.”

Leonard has made no public comments about his long-term commitment to the Raptors organization or the city of Toronto. He met with the Lakers and the Raptors iduring his free agency process.

“I didn’t lead anyone on,” Leonard told Chris Haynes.

“I took my time in free agency, as I should, to make sure I made the best decision for myself and my family. I feel like some of the media coverage over it made it feel that way, with people saying I’m signing with Toronto 99 percent or I’m going to the Lakers 99 percent. I don’t ever want to have that bad karma come back on me trying to make the Lakers miss out on players they should have gotten or vice-versa with the Raptors.”

There were reports that Leonard purchased a home in Toronto. When asked about it during the season, Leonard responded: “Didn’t happen yet. No.”

Per SB Nation: When he was asked what winning a championship could mean for the city of Toronto, Leonard replied: “I’m really not sure. I guess you’ve gotta ask somebody on the street or one of our fans … or somebody that’s been living in Canada for awhile.”

It was also believed that Leonard would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers and that he grew up a Los Angeles Lakers fan. He debunked those theories. “Y’all kept saying that me and Paul’s favorite team growing up was the Lakers,” he said.

“I’m not going to say, but whatever media outlet was out there saying that Kawhi prefers the Lakers over the Clippers, or Paul loves the Lakers, was wrong. I wasn’t a fan of the Lakers growing up. Not saying that’s why I didn’t choose them, but that’s not what it is. I wasn’t a fan of them, and [Paul] just told you guys he was a Clippers fan.”

Leonard ultimately signed a three-year, $104 million contract with the Clippers rather than joining LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers or staying in Toronto.

NBA Hall of Famer, Shaquille O’Neal suggests that Leonard may have found characteristics in Clippers consultant, Jerry West that he found in Gregg Popovich.

“Kawhi seems to be a guy who loves honesty,” Shaq told me via Scoop B Radio.

West, an NBA Hall of Famer, NBA Champion and 14-time NBA All Star has been the architect of many pivotal deals as general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers.

For those tardy to the party: In his front office role, West is quite responsible for creating the great 1980s Lakers dynasty, which brought five championship rings (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988) to the purple and gold.

He was also integral for the Lakers’ success in the 90s and 2000s also.

“Jerry is very honest,” Shaq told me.

“Jerry probably said: ‘I’m working on a deal to get you Paul George. You’ve seen what the team did last year. You know what type of guy Doc is. This is your hometown. We would like to have you.’”

He was also integral for the Lakers’ success in the 90s and 2000s also.

“Jerry is very honest,” Shaq told me.

“Jerry probably said: ‘I’m working on a deal to get you Paul George. You’ve seen what the team did last year. You know what type of guy Doc is. This is your hometown. We would like to have you.’”


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