After six disappointing seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers are finally ready to make an impact in the deep Western Conference. Despite failing to secure a deal before the February NBA trade deadline, the Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans recently reached an agreement to send Anthony Davis to Los Angeles in exchange for Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, and three first-round picks.
The successful acquisition of Davis is just the start of the Lakers’s plan to build a roster that can legitimately contend for the NBA championship in the 2019-20 NBA season.
As of now, the Lakers are focusing on recruiting some of the big names who will be available on the free agency market next month. The Lakers have already been linked to several incoming free agent superstars, like Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics and Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Lakers will also “pursue” Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors.
Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors may have dethroned the mighty Golden State Warriors and won the NBA championship in the 2018-19 NBA season, but his future in Toronto remains uncertain. Since acquiring him in a blockbuster deal with the San Antonio Spurs last summer, the Raptors haven’t received any assurances from Leonard that he intends to stay long-term in Toronto, giving teams like the Lakers the chance to steal him in the 2019 NBA free agency.
The “Big Three” of Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis will undeniably make the Lakers the favorite team to bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the 2019-20 NBA season. However, despite having the opportunity to play for one of the best franchises in NBA history alongside LeBron James, Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report believes that the Lakers are the “worst landing spot” for Leonard in the 2019 NBA free agency.
“Leonard now has two titles. One with the San Antonio Spurs and one with the Raptors. Both are generally perceived to be among the more stable organizations in the league. Ditching a title defense with the steady Raptors for the chaos that comes with James and the Lakers would go beyond bold. Now, if L.A. somehow winds up with LeBron, Davis and Leonard, it’d be a contender. But Kawhi’s arguably No. 3 in that situation. He’s already shown he can win titles as the No. 1.”
Teaming up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis will give Kawhi Leonard an easier path to his third NBA title, but taking his talent to Los Angeles will force him to accept a reduced role from being the main man to a third scoring option. As of now, Bailey thinks that the best move for Leonard is to stay in Toronto and help the Raptors defend their throne in the 2019-20 NBA season.