Throughout the offseason, Lakers rumors have been about Kawhi Leonard. After it was apparent that Leonard wanted out of San Antonio, he was instantly linked to Lakers.
With a desire to play in Los Angeles, the Lakers made a lot of sense for Leonard. The Lakers had an appealing young core that they could have sent to San Antonio for Leonard, but he was instead traded to the Toronto Raptors.
On the Raptors, Leonard should be on one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference with him and Kyle Lowry. Since the Raptors will be able to give him the biggest contract, they will certainly have a chance to re-sign him this coming offseason.
Even though the summer is still a long ways away, the speculation about where Leonard will go will be a hot topic all season. Recently, Ramona Shelburne talked about where Leonard might end up next season. Here’s what she said via Matthew Moreno of LakersNation.com.
“I’ve had several people say the whole Laker mystique doesn’t hold any appeal for Kawhi. That’s not why he wanted to be with the Lakers. He wanted to be with the Lakers because he thought they were closer to winning. Then they went out and got LeBron and several people, I will say, who know Kawhi, talk to Kawhi, said, ‘He’s not going to like that. He’s not going to want to play in his shadow.’ But the people who I actually trust in terms of they matter in his decision making, they said, ‘No, he still wants to be with the Lakers because they’re closer to winning.’ Now, I don’t know where he is now that he’s in Toronto, because they haven’t started playing, he hasn’t gone through a winter, he’s just getting started. … I would say Clippers one. I would say Toronto two and Lakers three.”
Leonard is certainly a hard player to predict where he will want to go. While we don’t know all of the details behind his desire to leave the Spurs, they have been one of the most successful franchises in the NBA for the last 20 years.
As Shelburne says, winning is important to Leonard. Of the three teams that she mentions, the Lakers would be the closest to winning if they added Leonard. However, it seems like there is a possibility that he doesn’t want to be in the shadow of LeBron James.
With a decision for Leonard still a long ways away, there will likely be a lot of factors that will impact what he decides to do. For the Lakers, they have positioned themselves very nicely to give him arguably the best possible situation for him to win if he chooses them.