Rumor: Kawhi Leonard asked Magic Johnson if Lakers tried to trade for him when he was with the Spurs
Kawhi Leonard had a “positive” phone call with Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson, having to do so separately from the meeting he intended to have with the Hall of Famer and team owner Jeanie Buss. The most-coveted free agent remaining in the pool had some searing questions for Johnson, who could not meet with the star in company of his former boss, as NBA rules clearly state Johnson cannot be present in team affairs, but is free to meet with any player at his leisure.
Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times shared some of the intel from that meeting during an appearance in Spectrum SportsNet (via Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll):
“There was one interesting question (Leonard) had for Magic: ‘Did you guys try to trade for me when I was in San Antonio?’ And the answer was ‘yes, but because it was Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, and our history, they were asking for 2,000 draft picks — well, not 2,000 — like four draft picks, first-round draft picks, and we just couldn’t do that.’ And that was one of his questions.
“The uncle’s questions were ‘what’s really going on in the organization between you, Jeanie, Rob Pelinka, everyone? Is it as dysfunctional as we’re reading and hearing?’ And the response was ‘we had some issues, but we’re past that. I’m past that. We’re still a family, such as you fight with your brothers and sisters sometimes, well, I had somewhat of a disagreement with my sister. And Rob Pelinka, yes, I said he was a back-stabber, but that happened then. Now I want the Lakers to be a championship team. Having Kawhi here would do that.
“‘You can play for them because it’s not about me, it’s not about Jeanie, it’s really about this franchise. It’s about Kareem. Wilt Chamberlain. Kobe Bryant. It’s about all those great players. You can be another one, you can join LeBron James and you can win more titles, and you don’t have to put as much stress on your body to do that. We have two stars to work with you.’”
Before Leonard, the Lakers had failed to acquire Paul George in a trade, with many perceiving the organization was not trying as hard to acquire him due to his connection to the city.
It’s likely the Finals MVP had the same question as most fans, as he could have landed with the Lakers instead of the Raptors this past season — though this can all change if Earvin has worked his Magic on Leonard this time.