Rumor: LeBron James trying to recruit Kawhi Leonard to Lakers
A recent report by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith noted that LeBron James “has quietly been about the business of trying to get Kawhi Leonard to come to the Los Angeles Lakers instead of the Los Angeles Clippers.” Smith also claimed on ESPN Radio that LeBron visited Leonard in Philadelphia, per LeBron Wire.
This insight comes on the heels of a recent report by his colleague, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, saying that Leonard’s decision will likely come down to choosing between the Clippers and Toronto Raptors.
An early-year report by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps noted that Leonard’s decision would rest between the two aforementioned teams, the same that were viewed as the main contenders to lock up his services in the summer:
The popular opinion among league executives six months before Leonard makes his decision is that he’ll choose between the Raptors and the Clippers. If it comes down to those two teams, the chance for Leonard to come home and to stay away from snow could be the Clippers’ strongest argument.
Some have argued that Leonard has made up his mind to wind up with the Clippers, while others think there’s still a strong chance he can stay with the Raptors if they reach the NBA Finals and show that championship potential.
The Lakers come across as a tough proposition given they’ve fired a coach after an underwhelming year, missed out on a candidate to the team that has lost the most games over a five-year stretch, and also had their own president of basketball operations resign on the spot, without any warning to the owner or front office.
Leonard was also reportedly uninterested in teaming up with James, at least according to ESPN’s Michael C. Wright back in 2018.
If the Lakers are indeed pursuing Leonard this offseason, it would almost surely dissolve any chance they have of making a run for Anthony Davis in a trade scenario, as they would be forced to use the rest of their salary cap space to haul in Leonard’s impending max contract.