After a very good summer, the Los Angeles Lakers are currently the best team in the Western Conference, boasting a terrific 41-12 record. Anthony Davis, LeBron James and the rest of the squad are doing a terrific job this season, but this could have been a lot bigger if they landed the biggest free agent in the league last offseason.
Over the summer, the Lakers were one of three teams (along with the Toronto Raptors and LA Clippers) with a chance to sign Kawhi Leonard. They put a lot of effort to sign him, but Kawhi chose the Clippers, in a decision that changed the balance of the league.
The Lakers still put together a good team, but adding Kawhi would have been the cherry on top for them. However, Davis believes Leonard going elsewhere saved the NBA season from feeling like a foregone conclusion:
Q: Do you let yourself think about what might have been if Kawhi had decided to be a Laker this summer?
A: “No. I don’t like Kawhi... No, I’m kidding. Kawhi is my guy. I just saw him over here... At the time when it was going down, before he decided, you think about what the team could be, the defensive mindset we could have, the scoring ability we could have. Me him and ‘Bron is obviously something that teams would fear, but all I’ll say is that I think he made the league interesting. He made the league fun. And that’s the great thing about sports. You never know what’s going to happen, and now we kind of have this, as you guys would say quote unquote ‘rivalry’ in L.A., and so it’s fun.
“Obviously you think about what could have been, but he made a decision for him and his family and he’s still my guy. I’m still going to talk to him, but when we jump between the lines it’s going to be competitive and it’s going to be fun, as you guys have seen the last two games.”
Now Kawhi and the Clippers are the Lakers’ biggest rivals for the NBA championship. The 2x NBA champion is trying to take the Clips to win the Larry O’Brien for the first time alongside Paul George and a very talented team ready to take it all.