The days of LeBron James being able to carry a team to 55 wins each season seem to be over as the Lakers fell to the lowly Suns on Saturday and dropped to 30-33 on the season. No doubt, this will hurt the Lakers in free agency this summer as a superstar player simply partnering with LeBron is no longer a guaranteed Finals berth. In fact it might not even be a guaranteed playoff berth anymore.
Kawhi Leonard already had reservations about joining up with LeBron on the Lakers as he knows full well that LeBron would be the first to get credit for any and all success. While Leonard is a Los Angeles native, it is much more likely that Leonard would head to the Clippers instead of the Lakers. In NBA circles right now, the Clippers look like one of the more well-run organizations in the league while Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson’s Lakers look like they’re simply throwing crap against the wall and hoping something sticks.
There has been much more buzz that Leonard is looking at the Clippers over the Lakers in recent weeks, and that a potential re-signing with the Raptors is more likely than a move to the purple and gold this summer.
“Every time I’m in the Clippers orbit all season long, they’re confident in terms of getting Kawhi Leonard,” New York Times NBA insider Marc Stein said last month. “You feel it when you’re around them. They think they’re getting Kawhi.”
Like the Lakers, the Knicks also look like they’ll be on the outside looking in when it comes to potentially signing Leonard. While the Knicks have two max spots to dangle, New York will be going all-in on landing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving first and foremost. In fact, there has been recent noise that Leonard won’t even take a meeting with the Knicks.
“The popular opinion among league executives before Leonard makes his decision is that he’ll choose between the Raptors and Clippers,” ESPN’s Tim Bontemps wrote.
Leonard also does not want to make this much of a drama this summer, indicating that he will make his decision quickly. That means if the Knicks were to whiff on their Durant – Irving pairing, a Leonard back-up plan won’t be there to be had.