Kawhi Leonard ‘was very close’ to signing with Raptors or Lakers, says opportunity to play with Paul George sealed deal for Clippers
Two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard says he “was very close” to signing with the Toronto Raptors or Los Angeles Lakers this summer, but the opportunity to play with Paul George on the Los Angeles Clippers sealed the deal for him to come to the Clips.
Leonard signed a three-year deal with the Clippers.
Kawhi on how close he was to choosing the Lakers or Raptors instead of the Clippers:
"I was very close. Real close. But when [the Clippers] presented the opportunity of playing with Paul, it was easy, it was a yes. I said let's get it going."
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 24, 2019
Kawhi Leonard reportedly talked to Kevin Durant and Jimmy Butler about playing together on the Clippers. Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets, while Butler went to the Miami Heat. Once the Clippers had a deal in place to acquire Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder, their front office called Leonard and said we have a chance to acquire George.
That’s all Leonard needed to hear. He’s always wanted to play with PG and now he gets a chance to team up with the star swingman back home in Los Angeles.
The Raptors were in position to offer Leonard the most money in free agency, while the Lakers had Anthony Davis and LeBron James recruit The Claw. In the end, no one really expected Leonard to choose the Lakers because it’s not his m.o. to create a superteam.
When he requested a trade from the San Antonio Spurs, Leonard reportedly asked the Spurs to send him to Los Angeles. Leonard signing with the Clippers wasn’t that much of a shock. It was LAC acquiring George which sent shock waves throughout the NBA.