About a week ago, the Los Angeles Lakers appeared to gain an edge in the race to trade for disgruntled Spurs star Kawhi Leonard. Their assets, plus the fact that Leonard reportedly wants to go to L.A., made the Lakers a logical destination. Other teams would be reluctant to relinquish significant players or picks for Leonard if there was a strong chance he’d just sign with the Lakers as a free agent next summer anyway.
But now that LeBron James has agreed to join the Lakers, Leonard might be opening up his options. Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reports that Leonard is far from a lock to join the Lakers as a free agent in 2019, and that he isn’t necessarily interested in joining a team with LeBron. In fact, he might be more open to playing with the Clippers, or even the Philadelphia 76ers.
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“One thing that’s been made abundantly clear. I’m going to stress this: There’s no guarantee if Kawhi Leonard hits the market next summer he’s going to sign with the Lakers, period,” Charania said on The Herd with Colin Cowherd, via RealGM. “I think his options have broadened a little bit. There’s another team obviously in L.A. I think he’d be very much open to the Clippers.
“There’s a belief around the league that if the Sixers came hard, there could be potential there for him to potentially be there in the long-term.
“Around Kawhi, it’s been made abundantly clear there’s not an interest to go join a superteam. I don’t think he’s jumping for joy that LeBron James is in L.A. with the Lakers. If anything, that’s going to make him look, maybe more, toward the Clippers because this is a guy that won Finals MVP against LeBron James. You think he’s amped up and wants to join LeBron now? I think that’s been overstated.”
Immediately after James announced his decision to join the Lakers, reports surfaced saying that the Lakers were still Leonard’s No. 1 destination. Apparently Charania’s sources are now telling him otherwise.