The Los Angeles Lakers have lost out on Kawhi Leonard, and some NBA insiders think that Magic Johnson’s propensity for sharing details of the team’s negotiations may have played a role.
In the early morning hours on Saturday, reports indicated that Leonard picked the Clippers, a team that many NBA reporters said had already been eliminated from contention. The Clippers also pulled off a shocking trade for Paul George, building an immediate contender in the Western Conference and pulling the rug out from under the Lakers, a team many had pegged as a front runner to land Leonard.
There was some immediate speculation that leaks from the Lakers camp may have hurt their cause, which Cris Carter posited on Twitter. Kawhi’s camp was very quiet about the six days of negotiations that included meetings with the Lakers and Clippers before he gave the Raptors the final pitch. Leonard reportedly talked to Paul George earlier in the week about the possibility of playing together, and George demanded a trade that the Oklahoma City Thunder executed quickly to take advantage of the very willing Clippers. All the teams involved managed to keep the plans under wraps until early on Saturday, when Leonard informed the two other teams that he was planning to sign with the Clippers.
There were others who believe the Lakers — and Magic Johnson in particular — did themselves no favors by sharing details of the negotiations. Skip Bayless wrote on Twitter that the leaks “soured” Kawhi on the thought of joining the Lakers. Several NBA reporters had said throughout the week the Kawhi’s camp was asking teams not to leak any details of their talks.
It is not clear how much truth there could be to the speculation. There are no solid reports that Kawhi was put off by the leaks from the Lakers camp, and it appeared that Leonard was already setting into motion his plan to join up with George on the Clippers.
Remember Magic Johnson playing Laker hero & leaking to the media how No. 2 wanted to talk to HIM?!? Remember all the stories about how the Lakers were in the driver's seat to land him?!? OBVIOUSLY SOURED HIM ON THE LAKERS. How you like him now, LeBron?!?
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) July 6, 2019
All the information that leaked from Magic’s conversations with Kawhi team didn’t help the Lakers case.
— Cris Carter (@criscarter80) July 6, 2019
Losing out on Kawhi Leonard leaves an uncertain path forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, who were angling for a big three with Leonard alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Shortly after the Leonard decision was reported, new reports indicated that the Lakers signed free agent guard Danny Green to a two-year, $30 million deal. The Lakers also brought back center JaVale McGee, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported on Twitter.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 6, 2019
It’s not clear yet if the Lakers may be in the market for any more big moves after failing to secure Kawhi Leonard.