Nobody really knows what Kawhi Leonard is thinking about next summer because he doesn’t express it. Combine that with an inexperienced management team around him now, and you get a vacuum, and that vacuum will get filled with speculation.
That said, ESPN’s well-connected Ramona Shelburne went on the popular Mason and Ireland radio show on ESPN LA and there said something that has been floating around parts of the NBA for a while now — the Lakers are not on top of Leonard’s destination list. Hat tip Farbod Ensaashari of Sports Daily.
Other sources I have spoken to still think the Lakers are in front, but that this is far from decided. Why? Well, there are a couple of reasons, such as the shadow of LeBron James. Also, there is simply fit: Leonard is not a person who seeks out the spotlight, is not a social media guy, doesn’t want to talk to TMZ outside a restaurant/bar or be part of the celebrity culture, and most of all Leonard does not like a lot of drama around him. Especially in the locker room. Sign with the Lakers and all those things come with it, it’s part of the package. The Clippers are in Los Angeles, too, and some of those same factors come with them, but the Clipper brand isn’t as strong and the spotlight isn’t as bright, especially since the Lakers have LeBron.
This is all why Toronto has a chance. Leonard says he’s keeping an open mind, and Toronto is making its play (having already hired one of his good friends into the staff), and the franchise believes it has some things going for it that can win Leonard over. Maybe. Winning big would be part of that.
However, all season long you will see rumors of Leonard coming to Los Angeles, which is still the most likely scenario, just don’t bet on it being the Lakers.