Although it was widely expected that the Los Angeles Lakers would be adding a second superstar in the current offseason to play alongside LeBron James, the team wasn’t able to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs, and Kevin Durant, as expected, re-signed with the Golden State Warriors for at least another year. That might change in the summer of 2019, with Leonard becoming a free agent after one season with the Toronto Raptors, and if Durant opts out of the second and final year of his new contract. But which of these two stars is more likely to join the Lakers?
On the Wednesday episode of Sports Illustrated Now, hosts Amy Campbell and Robin Lundberg discussed the UCLA workout where James, Durant, and Leonard were all seen working out together on Tuesday as expected rivals acting “all buddy-buddy” in the homestretch of the 2018 offseason. During this part of the episode, Campbell asked Lundberg who among the other two is more likely to team with James in 2019-20, and while Lundberg stressed that Leonard is still “slightly favored” to join the Lakers next summer, he added that it won’t be surprising if Durant signs with Los Angeles instead.
“I would only slightly favor Kawhi, but only by a hair, and that’s pretty amazing,” said Lundberg.
“Kevin Durant’s looming free agency is going to be one of the biggest stories of the [2018-19] NBA season. We’ll see if it affects the Warriors at all. But I wouldn’t be shocked if [Durant] does wind up changing teams after this year to try and rewrite his narrative a little bit.”
When asked again by Campbell if he thinks Durant is more likely than Kawhi Leonard to join the Los Angeles Lakers, Lundberg said that he “wouldn’t bet on it,” but reiterated that he “wouldn’t write off” that possibility. While Lundberg also mentioned the rumors that other teams, particularly the New York Knicks, are also interested in acquiring the former scoring champion, he said that any potential move Durant makes in the summer of 2019, including possibly teaming with LeBron James, wouldn’t stun him at this point.
While Kawhi Leonard has been repeatedly quoted as saying he’d want to play for a Los Angeles team — either the Lakers or the Clippers — when he enters free agency in 2019, Kevin Durant’s name hasn’t been brought up as frequently as a potential future addition to the Lakers. In fact, some other experts have doubted the possibility he’d want to play alongside LeBron James, with Yahoo Sports‘ Chris Mannix saying earlier in August, per Hoops Hype, that Durant might prefer to be the “player who eclipses” LeBron if he and the Warriors win another NBA championship in the 2018-19 season.