Kawhi Leonard is a Los Angeles Clipper. He did not join LeBron James and Anthony Davis as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Imagine if he did!
The team would pretty stacked. But in all actuality it seems to good to be true.
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 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.
But here’s a thought: If Paul George didn’t force his way out of Oklahoma City with the Thunder, would Leonard have still joined the Clippers?
I checked in with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes on the Scoop B Radio Podcast and asked him just that.
Check out our Q&A below:
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: You are a guy from Fresno, you’re going out and doing community service right now. Paul George is a guy that went to Fresno State, correct?
Chris Haynes: Yes sir!
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: He’s a guy from LA County, got out of Oklahoma City and made it to the Clippers. If the trade didn’t happen for Paul George going to the Clippers, do you think that is the determining factor as to why Kawhi went to the Clippers and not to the Lakers?
Chris Haynes: I think that was a big part. I think… I’ll say this: I asked Kawhwi that question, he said he still would have picked the Clippers. I’m not sure. I’ll say that I think the Lakers’ chances would definitely have increased expeditiously if Paul George didn’t force his way out. I know Kawhi, he relishes in winning, he wants to be in a good situation. But all things considered, you have the Clippers and the Lakers and they’re both championship winning teams. There’s just something about playing for a LeBron James team! The headlines, all the drama (warranted or unwarranted) just comes with LeBron. And then you add on the Lakers appeal, it’s just amped up even more. We know how Kawhi is, you got a chance to be on the Clippers team and they’re seen as the little brother team to the Lakers. He’s trying to win, and I think Paul George made that decision easier.