There is only one big name remaining on the free agent market, and that of course is Kawhi Leonard. The Los Angeles Lakers, L.A. Clippers, and Toronto Raptors are the teams vying for his services and it is anyone’s guess as to who is in the lead.
If recent rumors are to be believed, the Lakers seem to have the advantage over the Clippers and Raptors, but there are still meetings to be had. Leonard reportedly spoke with Magic Johnson, however, and the idea of teaming with LeBron James and Anthony Davis could appeal to Kawhi overall.
That is what the Lakers are banking on in their pursuit of signing him. According to Chris Broussard of Fox Sports 1, the Lakers hopes of landing Leonard rests on his trust in Magic and LeBron, as their front office is at a disadvantage compared to that of the competitors:
Lakers’ hopes for Kawhi resting on his trust of Magic & LeBron because their front office is a concern, to say the least. Clippers & Raptors clear front office advantage
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 2, 2019
The outside optics of the Lakers continues to be a discussion and remains a negative in the public eye. Many have said that the Lakers have signed James and traded for Davis in spite of their front office dysfunction.
Coincidentally, it is the people that Leonard reportedly trusts most, LeBron and Magic, who many believe are the main causes of this dysfunction.
Magic in particular has pulled back the curtain on a number of his perceived issues with the team in the midst of his sudden resignation. Particularly his sharp criticism about general manager Rob Pelinka being a backstabber is something that can’t sit well with many around the league.
James also faced some scrutiny during the season with the Davis fiasco which all came under the eye of his agent Rich Paul.
Meanwhile the Raptors, and particularly Masai Ujiri, have been praised greatly as one of the best executives in the league. Likewise, the Clippers’ roster building and acquisition of assets has been impressive and having Jerry West there gives them immediate credibility.
Regardless of any of that, it is still Leonard’s decision to make. People may criticize the Lakers’ front office, but if they sign Leonard in addition to already having LeBron and Davis, no one can question their ability and effectiveness to acquire stars.