Kawhi Leonard might not like a lot of drama around him, but he wants to be recruited.
Leonard has not tipped his hand at all about his free agency plans, although most league sources have seen it as a two-team race between coming home to Southern California with the Los Angeles Clippers or staying with the Toronto Raptors, where he just won a title. However, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports the Los Angeles Lakers have gotten their foot in the door as well.
Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard intends to grant the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers meetings when free agency opens on June 30, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The meetings would be held in Los Angeles, sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN added this tidbit.
The Lakers will bring the star-power to their meeting — LeBron James and Anthony Davis will no doubt be in the room — plus they can talk marketing opportunities and the power of the Laker brand in making money off the court.
Will that be enough? Leonard and LeBron have a relationship, but Leonard is not exactly a “join a superteam” kind of guy. Plus, as I have reported before (and many other reporters have echoed from their own sources), Leonard is not a fan of the drama and chaos that follows all things Lakers and LeBron. That’s why the Clippers have long been thought of as the front-runner to land Leonard if he leaves Toronto — that is a 48-win team that plays hard, has a second scorer in Lou Williams, one where Leonard is the best player but a good roster is already in place that makes the team a contender with him (like what awaited him in with the Raptors).
Toronto has made their pitch all season long. Next season Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and Fred Van Vleet will all be in the final year of their contracts, Leonard could sign a one-plus-one deal and play another season and chase another ring with Toronto, then come to Southern California in a year. (The Clippers can afford to wait a year for him, the Lakers not so much because they need to win now).
Nobody knows what direction Leonard will go. Now we just know who gets a chance to sit down at the table with him.