Lakers a significant threat for Clippers in Kawhi Leonard pursuit
Things change fast in #thisleague: With free agency a day and change away, it's the Lakers who have convinced Las Vegas — and an increasing number of league insiders — that they are LA's true threat to limiting Kawhi Leonard's Raptors career to a single season. Not the Clippers
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 29, 2019
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.