Weeks before the 2019 NBA free agency started, Kawhi Leonard had narrowed down his list of potential landing spots to three NBA teams. These included the Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Los Angeles Lakers. During that time, there was a growing belief around the league that the Lakers were frontrunners to sign the reigning Finals MVP when he hit the free agency market.
Like what he said last summer, Kawhi Leonard truly ended up being a one-year rental for the Toronto Raptors, but he joined the other team situated in Los Angeles: the Los Angeles Clippers. Fans were surprised by Leonard’s decision to choose the Clippers over the Lakers, but not his former Raptors teammate Danny Green. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, Green was aware that Leonard had no interest in forming a “Big Three” with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles.
“I think all of it was a shock to me,” Green said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “Except not as much of a shock Kawhi going to L.A. The Clippers, anyway. I didn’t see him coming this route [to the Lakers]. I feel like he wanted to go his own route. I think it was between them and going back. I think the year that he had and what those fans brought this season and everything, it was hard for him to turn it down and leave Toronto. But I knew he wanted to be closer to home.”
Kawhi Leonard may have decided to take his “own route,” but he didn’t go to the Clippers alone. On his way to the Clippers, Leonard heavily recruited Paul George. George made a quick decision and demanded a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, who ended up sending him to the Clippers in exchange for Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and future first-round picks.
After Kawhi Leonard snubbed the Lakers, they immediately offered Danny Green a two-year, $30 million contract in the 2019 NBA free agency. Green said that signing with the Lakers isn’t a very hard decision for him, especially knowing that they currently have two of the best active players in the league — Anthony Davis and LeBron James — on their roster.
Though the Lakers failed to acquire Kawhi Leonard, they still managed to surround LeBron James and Anthony Davis with quality veterans whom they believe could help them dominate the Western Conference and contend for the NBA championship. Aside from Danny Green, the Lakers also signed Jared Dudley, Avery Bradley, DeMarcus Cousins, Quin Cook, and Troy Daniels. They also brought back some of their own free agents, like JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Alex Caruso.