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Lakers a significant threat for Clippers in Kawhi Leonard pursuit

Kawhi Leonard, Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers have usurped the LA Clippers as the biggest threat to lure Kawhi Leonard away from the Toronto Raptors in free agency, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times.

The Times also reports that the Clippers are behind the Raptors in Leonard’s current free-agency pecking order. In fact, there’s a belief that the only way the Clippers will be able to convince Leonard to sign with them is if the has a prior agreement in place with Kevin Durant. The Lakers, though, reportedly think they will win the sweepstakes for the player many believe has risen to the top of the game’s individual hierarchy.

Before 2018-19, Leonard was considered a one-season rental in Toronto, as all momentum suggested he hoped to return home to play in his native Southern California. But it was the Clippers who were always reported to be his most likely destination in Los Angeles, not their cross-arena rivals.After the Lakers created enough cap space earlier this week to come scrape Leonard’s starting max-level salary, it seems he’s ever intrigued by the prospect of teaming up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis to form a new Big Three for the ages.

Leonard led Toronto to the Larry O’Brien Trophy following a trade from the San Antonio Spurs last summer. He averaged a career-high 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game during the regular season, but only played in 60 games due to “load management” related to the quad injury that caused him to miss almost all of 2017-18. All that rest paid off in the playoffs, though, as Leonard performed at a level higher than any other player in the league while bringing the Raptors their first ever title.