Entering the 2019 NBA offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as the frontrunners to sign Kawhi Leonard in free agency. After several roster maneuvers and help from Anthony Davis’ camp, the Lakers have opened up enough salary cap space to offer Leonard a max contract. However, although Leonard decided to leave the reigning NBA champions Toronto Raptors, he ended up signing with the other team situated in Los Angeles – the Clippers.
Former Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson was one of the people who tried to recruit Kawhi Leonard to the Purple and Gold. Like most of the fans, Johnson is disappointed with Leonard’s decision to choose the Clippers over the Lakers. However, in an interview with Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, Johnson reminded the Lakers nation that the team “ain’t going anywhere” since they still have LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
“Everybody tried. That’s all you can do,” Johnson said, as quoted by Lakers Nation. “I’m a Laker, man. I was hoping all day. But for the league, it turned out great. And for this town, it’s the king of basketball. You got LeBron and AD with the Lakers and Paul George and Kawhi with the Clippers. You got to say to Jerry West, Doc Rivers and [Steve] Ballmer, congratulations. For the Lakers, there’s disappointment but joy too, because we pivoted and got some great players in free agency and we still have LeBron and AD. In a perfect world, you’d love to have Kawhi. But, hey, the Lakers ain’t going anywhere.”
The arrival of Kawhi Leonard has undeniably turned the Clippers from a mediocre team to a legitimate title contender in the deep Western Conference. Aside from Leonard, the Clippers have also succeeded to acquire Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and future first-round picks. With their current roster, the Clippers are currently emerging as the top favorite to dethrone the Raptors next season.
Meanwhile, despite failing to add a third superstar, the Lakers’ team that has Anthony Davis and LeBron James on their roster still have a realistic chance to contend for the NBA championship title in the 2019-20 NBA season. After Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers, the Lakers filled their roster with quality players that could help them bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Los Angeles. These include DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Jared Dudley, Avery Bradley, Troy Daniels, and Quin Cook. They also decided to bring in some of their own free agents, like Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Alex Caruso, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.