Kawhi Leonard’s free agency is set to be a very entertaining one given that nobody has a clue of where he will end up playing next season. Although there are teams highly interested in his services, we still have to wait to discover which squad the Klaw is going to be leading next campaign.
During an appearance on SportsCenter, Stephen A. Smith had the chance to discuss Leonard’s future, echoing the words that newly-crowned Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams said on Gilbert Arenas’ podcast. Williams described how players feel when they are part of the Raptors and how they feel the need to go back to the U.S. four or five months into the season, and how some struggle to have the same excitement about the franchise throughout the whole season.
Now that the Lakers have enough room to afford another max player, they seem like a very good destination for some of the hottest soon-to-be free agents, but, even after the Lakers reportedly ruled themselves out of competition for him, there are reports suggesting they might still in the race for Kawhi’s signature.
Discussing the chances of the Clippers to land Leonard and the potential competition the Lakers would mean to them now that they have cleared salary cap, Smith said: “I don’t think it would be fair that Kawhi was paired with LeBron and AD."
“Just crown the Los Angeles Lakers champions, even though I don’t think it would be ideal for Kawhi, because Kawhi has been a number one option and obviously that would change in LA. Talk about what happened this year and look, that’s clearly what he would have to do (going to Toronto).”
“The belief’s widely been that if he didn't stay in Toronto, he will go to Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers won 48 games last year without a star, and so him going to that squad in his hometown of Southern California (...) but Masai and Toronto can make the case; we’re the reigning defending NBA champions, we won 58 games this past season, you got a great chemistry with your teammates, everybody recognizes that you are the superstar of this franchise. It is a hard call to make, because there is no losing situation for him, no matter how you slice it.”
We’ve already seen big stars joining others in order to be unstoppable in this league, with Kevin Durant and the Warriors being the most recent proof of that. As for Kawhi, perhaps he doesn’t see himself sharing touches with huge stars like LeBron James and Anthony Davis and will opt to be the go-to guy either for the Clippers or the Raptors.