RUMOR: Kawhi Leonard could prefer to join Clippers over Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers have been the talk of the town since acquiring the best player in the world in free agency this past weekend. LeBron James agreed to join the purple and gold and since then, the team has been looking for ways to surround him with talent.
Another star the Lakers have been in talks to acquire is San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard. Leonard has been disgruntled and reportedly wants out of San Antonio following a breach of trust between himself and the organization as well as the players. Leonard’s reported preferred destination is Los Angeles, and likely the Lakers, who he has been rumored to want to re-sign with once he hits free agency in the summer of 2019.
While the Lakers have been in hot pursuit of Leonard, they might not be the team he wants to be on the most. Yahoo Sports’ NBA insider Shams Charania, who is arguably one of the most plugged in media members in the NBA, joined Colin Cowherd on The Herd Tuesday morning to talk DeMarcus Cousins, LeBron James, Leonard, and a number of other trending NBA topics. When the topic of the Spurs forward came around, Charania dropped a couple of interesting nuggets regarding Kawhi Leonard and another possible preferred destination: the LA Clippers.
“One thing that is made abundantly clear, and I’m going to stress this: there’s no guarantee that when Kawhi Leonard hits the market next summer, that he’s going to sign with the Lakers, period.” said Charania. “I think his options have broadened a little bit. Just inside L.A., there’s another team obviously in L.A. I think he’d be very much open to the Clippers.”
So far, the Clippers haven’t been reported as favorites to land Leonard, although Chris Haynes of ESPN did report this past weekend that they are still in the hunt for the 2014 NBA Finals MVP. Charania adds that both the Spurs and Leonard are realizing there may be a broader market for Leonard, especially if he’s not a lock to sign with the Lakers when 2019 free agency hits.
“The Spurs are going to hold out and keep and open dialogue with him and his camp,” adds Charania. “I think around Kawhi, what’s been made abundantly clear is there’s not an interest to go join a super team. I don’t think he’s jumping for joy that LeBron James is in LA with the Lakers. If anything that’s gonna make him look more towards the Clippers because this is a guy that won Finals MVP against LeBron, You think he’s amped up and wants to join LeBron now? I think that’s been overstated and the spurs are beginning to realize that they might have a broader market for him.”
If Leonard is indeed open to going to Los Angeles, not interested in a super team, and also not a lock to re-sign with the Lakers, then the Clippers have to go hard after the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. At the same time, one player they should try to keep is Tobias Harris, who is only 25 and whose versatility would end up being absolutely lethal alongside Leonard. That will prove very hard to do as the Spurs want to remain competitive in their post-Kawhi Leonard era and Harris is the Clippers’ best asset.
Before the injury-riddled 2017-18 season, Leonard averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 2.0 three-pointers per game on 48.5 percent shooting and 38 percent from beyond the arc in the 2016-17 season.
If you would like to hear the video for yourself, Charania beings to speak on the issue at around the 28 minute mark of this video.