Most of the buzz surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers — and their projected roster moves going forward — has centered on their chances of trading for New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis. While Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant are seldom mentioned at the moment as potential acquisitions for the 2019 free agency season, recent comments from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggest that Lakers management still has hopes of signing either one of the two if they become unrestricted free agents.
According to ClutchPoints, Windhorst recently appeared on ESPN Los Angeles 710 AM, where he cited his sources in saying that Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson “wants a chance” to speak to Durant or Leonard — and hopefully convince them to sign with the team this summer. Both superstar forwards are expected to decline their 2019-20 player options and enter the free agent market, where they could potentially sign more lucrative deals with new teams.
Although Kawhi Leonard is a Los Angeles native who had been linked to the Lakers before the San Antonio Spurs traded him to the Toronto Raptors last summer — rumors have suggested that the two-time Defensive Player of the Year is more inclined to join the crosstown Clippers in the event he doesn’t re-sign with Toronto. As noted by ClutchPoints, the Clippers have also shown interest in Leonard, and have enough salary cap space to sign him to a maximum contract in the summer of 2019.
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant has been rumored in the past to be joining the Lakers, Clippers, or the New York Knicks in free agency. Though, as Bleacher Report noted earlier this month, the 30-year-old former NBA scoring champion could also choose to remain with the Golden State Warriors if earning more money would be his “driving force” in free agency.
“[Durant’s] true motivation [in free agency] remains a mystery, which is why his future is such a hotly debated topic,” Bleacher Report wrote.
Interestingly, the publication also cited an earlier report from ClutchPoints, one which alleged that Leonard doesn’t want to be on the same team as Durant due to comments the latter made about the former being a “system player.”
With the Los Angeles Lakers now tied for ninth place in the Western Conference — with a 23-21 record — league observers are increasingly underscoring the need to surround LeBron James with another proven superstar who could help him win a championship in Los Angeles. Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant both fit the bill, though ClutchPoints stressed that it’s still far too early to speculate whether Magic Johnson and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka could sell Leonard and Durant on wearing the purple and gold in the 2019-20 NBA season.