RUMOR: Clippers are leader for Kawhi Leonard, Raptors 2nd, Lakers 3rd
Kawhi Leonard is going to be the biggest free agent on the market in the summer of 2019, and while many won’t like it, it’s going to be talked about for the entire 2018-19 season. Will he stay with the Toronto Raptors? Will he join LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers? Will he join the LA Clippers and lead his own team?
No one truly knows what Leonard is thinking, and it feels like the rumors change on the weekly basis. Earlier in the summer, ESPN. Spurs reporter Michael Wright joined the Back-to-Back podcast where he says that Leonard is not interested in joining the Lakers, and instead wants his own team with the Clippers. Earlier this week, former player and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose reiterated that sentiment, and added a reminder to everyone that he was the first person to reveal the disconnect between Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs back in January 2018. Rose’s comments are what brought this topic up.
According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, who appeared on an episode of Mason and Ireland on 710 ESPN radio on Friday, the Clippers are the number one ranked team likely to land Leonard next summer (h/t my good friend Farbod Esnaashari). The topic of Leonard was discussed in detail, and when asked to rank the teams in order of most likely to sign Leonard, Shelburne put the Clippers at one and the Lakers at three.
I would say Clippers 1, because I agree with those two guys [Wright and Rose],” says Shelburne. “I would say Toronto 2, and I would say Lakers 3. Toronto can give him more money than anybody else can give him. He lost $70M by getting traded. Toronto can help make some of that back up.
I know this is your hate team, the Clippers, but the Clippers are doing EVERYTHING they can right now to get ready to this pitch to Kawhi Leonard and some of the other big time free agents next summer. Their entire organizational strategy is built towards positioning themselves [for next summer]. I’ve always kind of bought [the Kawhi-to-Clippers rumors].”
This will likely only come as a surprise Lakers supporters, who continue to insist that there’s no way Leonard will join Los Angeles second team just months after Paul George decided to spurn the Purple and Gold to remain with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
So far, The Athletic’s Shams Charania as well as ESPN’s Michael Wright, Jalen Rose, and now Ramona Shelburne have all reported that Leonard is interested in joining the Clippers over the Lakers. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, however, has insisted in the past that that Lakers are the team he is targeting.
In his last, full season with the Spurs, Leonard averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.8 st eals, and 0.7 blocks per game on 48.5 percent shooting fromr the field and 38 percent from beyond the arc.