Kawhi’s Free Agency No Longer Viewed As Two-Team Race

The Lakers are emerging as a legit contender in the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times, who tweets that an increasing number of league insiders – as well as oddsmakers in Las Vegas – view the Lakers as a “significant” threat to sign the NBA Finals MVP.

As we relayed on Friday, Leonard’s camp is lining up at least one meeting with the Lakers. That may end up turning into more than one meeting due to the fact that former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and still-technically-a-Pelican Anthony Davis aren’t permitted to represent the Lakers on a formal basis in a free agent pitch.

Leonard’s free agency has long been viewed by insiders and experts as a two-team race. The Raptors, having just won a title with Leonard leading the way, are still considered a strong contender for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and are expected to get the final meeting with him next week.

Meanwhile, the Clippers – who will also meet with Kawhi next week – have been regarded all season long as Los Angeles’ biggest threat to recruit Leonard back to his hometown. However, now that the Lakers have created nearly enough space for a maximum-salary offer for Leonard, Stein suggests that the Clippers will have to beat out not just the defending champions but also their cross-town L.A. rivals. According to Stein, the Clippers’ best route to winning over Leonard might be convincing Kevin Durant to choose the Clips as well.

[UPDATE: Durant, Leonard have reportedly discussed playing together]

We still don’t know exactly what Leonard’s thinking, and it’s probably premature to classify the Lakers as the frontrunner to sign him, but it certainly seems as if there are at least three viable landing spots for the star forward, rather than just the two that have been mentioned for much of the season.

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24 thoughts on “Kawhi’s Free Agency No Longer Viewed As Two-Team Race

    • if he wants to meet Magic, it seems he’s interested in what being with the Lakers could be like, but also wants Magic’s story of how toxic the culture there is.

      could just be his posturing to show good faith to hear their pitch, but then turn around to say, “sorry you couldn’t have done right by Magic.”

  1. Reflect

    Kawhi is the type of dude that really hates drama. I hope he thinks carefully before choosing the Lakers. They’re not the kind of team that would give him peace and plenty of space if he is injured or has a bad game.

    • triumph13

      Hate to say it (as a Celtics fan)… but if the Lakers land Kawhi, wow – have to hand it to them, 3 of the top 5 players in the game together in the matter of two offseasons.

      I’d like to say there would be turmoil as Kawhi takes the reigns as the best player on the team next year… but I think Kawhi is the type of player who would allow Lebron to continue to run the show the next couple of years while he simply does his thing.

    • dimitrios in la

      Lakers do see like a dramatic and dysfunctional bunch; Clippers seem the opposite.

      • whoneedsfacts

        He should win a chip with the Lakers, he could possibly compete for a chip with other teams. Lakers would have then highest quality big three I have ever seen if they get him. I’m not a Lakers fan or Raptors fan, and honestly I would like to see KL stay in Toronto on a 1+1 and see if they can do it. But that Lakers team will be beast and it looks like Lenord would like to be a part of that.

  2. Lefty_Orioles_Fan
    Lefty_Orioles_Fan

    Where are the Sixers in all of this? Nowhere!
    But, but, but Praise God though, they still have Ben Simmons! Marvelous

  3. suburbanwarren

    This is my take! Kawhi love his father dearly who is deceased ! If the lakers was his favorite team? Turn the lights out! Lakers!! Lakers!!! Why am I saying this? He is not materialistic, super stars don’t matter as well as your opinion! He is motivated about pleasing his deceased father! To repeat in Toronto is nearly impossible! They will beat up on him like white on rice! Joining the Lakers he could have 3-5 more NBA championships and extend his career, plus this is his hometown! Give me your take!

  4. goldenmisfit

    Anyone who thought the Lakers were not the odds on favorite in this sweepstakes is either just your typical Lakers hater or a diehard Toronto fan. Of coarse we will hear “he does not want to play second fiddle to LeBron“. If that was the case then why was he still requesting a trade to the Lakers after they signed LeBron James last off-season? Then we will hear “why would he want to leave Toronto he won a title with them“. Just like he did in San Antonio and then we would hear “Toronto can offer him the most money“ just like San Antonio could a couple years ago but yet he turned down a five-year maximum contract. This might come down to one very important factor the guy lives in Los Angeles and odds are what is not the biggest fan of the Toronto weather. All we heard for a couple of years was he wanted to be traded to Los Angeles and I doubt one season in Toronto has changed his mind. Now, the biggest telling tail is he seems laser focused on a meeting with only one of the teams and that is the Lakers. So much it looks like he could have a official meeting with the team and our unofficial meeting with two of the players and the former president. No one does that ever unless they are seriously considering signing. Opening night will he be a Los Angeles Laker? Can’t say yes but can’t say no. The one thing I find very funny is apparently all of these people on this site know what he is going to do more than he does. All we can do right now is wait and take what all the insiders are saying for face value and all I know is we don’t hear anything about Toronto, the clippers, New York or Brooklyn it’s all about Los Angeles Lakers.

  5. jorge78

    It really isn’t productive to do all this worrying and speculating guys. Nobody knows what they don’t know. This drama will give the media plenty of clicks.
    “He wore yellow today! He’s joining the Lakers!” “He’s drinking a Molson! He’s staying in Toronto!” Let’s all enjoy the show…..

  6. goldenmisfit

    I truly find it amusing all of the Lakers haters trying to come up with the most ridiculous reasons why Leonard should not join the Lakers. Here is one reason why he should winning. Not only winning but winning in his hometown. Anyone who thinks the Toronto raptors would have won the NBA finals had Kevin Durant been on the floor for the entire series is very delusional. Also anyone who thinks a team with Leonard, James and Davis would not be iconic and go on a run similar to what we saw with Golden State is beyond delusional. Now you want to talk about drama who caused that drama? Ball and Ingrahm come to mind guess what? They got shown the door. As far as the management structure goes it can’t be that bad if Magic Johnson is still willing to help the organization land one of the biggest free agents there is. Did it ever occur to anyone that the management drama might have been blown out of proportion by the media? Magic said he felt he was being undermined behind his back by the general manager what is a general managers ultimate goal to one day be the president of a franchise if I had a dollar for every time a general manager tried to undermine a president of a sports organization I would have pretty much the amount of money Leonard is going to want from whoever he signs with. I would agree if ball and Ingrahm were still with the Lakers this might not be the right atmosphere for Leonard because they both have a lot of growing up to do but those guys are gone all of the childish behavioral problems from the Lakers over the last two years are no longer there. What is really boils down to when you hear these people say “don’t join the Lakers that a week move“what they are really saying is “don’t do it if you do my team has no chance for the next Number of years“. Not to mention your basic fans do not like big-name players going to big market teams but that is just how the sports world works. Does anyone logically think Leonard would get the same amount of sponsorship or the same big sneaker deal or the same commercial spots in Toronto that he would in Los Angeles? If you really say yes then that just proves how delusional you are this is more than just the team it’s about maximizing your financial income just like LeBron did last off-season. But, as I said earlier this is all lipservice like I said now they are saying Lakers are the favorite tomorrow it could be Toronto the next day it could be the Clippers the day after that it could be New York we just have to wait and see. But the more you guys beg and plead for him not to sign with the Lakers just shows how big of a threat you see the Lakers already and how Leonard can put them over the top and just how fearful you are for your own team.

    • Stevehemp1414

      Goldenmisfit is what Kawhi would be with the Lakers. This man is not about sneakers. I also find it amusing that other than being a great player like Lebron, the two men are completely different. There will be no – “the decision”. There will be no- prime time show with Tim Tebow? There will probably be a beat-up Suburban picking up packing boxes at a Home Depot. A heart felt good bye to Toronto and leave Canada like David Price did never having any intention to stay. He’s from California that’s cool. Be home with the Clippers. Don’t be the next Chris Bosh. The man is clearly a great player who simply plays the game on the court not at a press conference . Not a drama guy, unless you count the four bouncer over Embid. We’ll miss you Kawhi, but would love to see a Western final to remind Lebron who’s hometown it is. Maybe, Lebron should have stayed home.

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