Kawhi Leonard is a Los Angeles Clipper and not a Los Angeles Laker.
Wanna now why?
In an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, Leonard was asked if Magic Johnson’s divulging their conversation was a determining factor as to why he didn’t sign with the Lakers.
Leoard spoke his peace. “No it wasn’t an issue,” Leonard told Haynes.
“Or whatever anyone has to say that’s true. The conversation I had with Magic was transparent.
“That’s not a reason I didn’t sign with the Lakers.”
Leonard was the biggest name in free agency given that Kevin Durant suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the NBA Finals.
The Toronto Raptors, the team he won an NBA Championship with and the Los Angeles Lakers were believed to be the frontrunners.
Leonard has made no public comments about his long-term commitment to the Raptors organization or the city of Toronto. There was a report he had purchased a home out north. He responded, “Didn’t happen yet. No.” 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.”
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.”
Even actor, Samuel L. Jackson weighed in recently:
“I think he is going land with the Clippers for some reason,” Jackson told Scoop B Radio.
“But it would be an interesting shot if he shows up in Brooklyn.”
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.
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.’”