Kawhi Leonard was going to return to his roots one way or another.
The Los Angeles native was the crown jewel of NBA free agency this summer and ultimately signed with the Clippers. The Clippers long were viewed as a potential landing spot for the two-time NBA Finals MVP, and their appeal certainly grew larger upon acquiring Paul George in a blockbuster trade.
But what if the Clippers weren’t able to land George? According to Yahoo! Sports, Leonard’s free agency decision likely would have been different.
“Leonard would have likely chosen the Lakers if the Clippers hadn’t found a way to pull off the blockbuster trade for George, league sources told Yahoo Sports,” Chris Haynes writes.
The Lakers reportedly were one the three finalists in the Leonard sweepstakes along with the Clippers and Toronto Raptors. It’s easy to understand why, as the Purple and Gold offered Leonard an opportunity to play alongside two of the game’s best in LeBron James and Anthony Davis in addition to a homecoming. Following his introductory press conference with the Clippers on Wednesday, Leonard peeled back the curtain on his interest in the Lakers.
“If they didn’t want to wait for me, they didn’t have to,” Leonard told Haynes. “They had a big opportunity to sign me. (The Lakers) were close, but I ended up on the other side.”
It probably wasn’t the end-all, be-all, but Magic Johnson’s blabbering reportedly didn’t do the Lakers any favors in their pursuit of Leonard. The L.A. teams now feature arguably the two best duos in the league, which should set up for some highly entertaining battles at Staples Center over the next few seasons.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images