For months, everyone has been suggesting that Kawhi Leonard longs to don the Purple and Gold of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Leonard, who was traded from the San Antonio Spurs to the Toronto Raptors in July, is a Los Angeles native and will be a free agent next summer. The Lakers will have the cap room to sign a max-player to put alongside LeBron James, so many already have penciled Leonard into LA’s 2019-20 starting five.
Not so fast, though.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported Friday on ESPN LA’s “Mason and Ireland” that the Lakers are not, in fact, the star forward’s top choice next offseason. According to Shelburne, they aren’t even No. 2.
Shelburne reported that the Los Angeles Clippers are Leonard’s preferred destination with the Raptors coming in at No. 2 and the Lakers in third.
While some might find this odd, it actually makes a ton of sense.
If Leonard were to sign with the Lakers, he would be signing up to play second fiddle to James with the league’s marquee franchise and would be thrust into the drama-filled news cycle that accompanies the best player in the world. The 26-year-old never has shown the desire to be in that kind of spotlight. Throughout all the drama that surrounded him last season, Leonard never spoke to the media about his rift with the Spurs or took to social media to voice his displeasure.
The Lakers’ media circus certainly doesn’t seem to fit his personality. With the Clippers, Leonard would the be the face of a franchise that has been plagued with bad luck and ever worse teams throughout its history, and he could go about his business without the James spotlight which will be focused on the Lakers.
The Clippers seem to be an ideal fit for Leonard, but everyone thought Paul George and the Lakers were a match made in heaven and that never materialized.
Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images
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