After being named as the Finals MVP and leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship title, Kawhi Leonard became the most coveted superstar in the 2019 NBA free agency. Despite finishing the 2018-19 NBA season as champions, Leonard still ended up as a one-year rental for the Raptors, as he chose to sign with his hometown team, the Los Angeles Clippers, as an unrestricted free agent.
Before Kawhi Leonard made a free-agency decision, rumors were circulating that he had been actively recruiting several superstars to team up with him in the 2019-20 NBA season. One of the NBA superstars Leonard tried to recruit was Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets. In her recent article, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN revealed how Durant reacted to Leonard’s recruitment in the 2019 NBA free agency.
“Then Durant got a call from Kawhi Leonard, asking if he’d consider teaming up with him and signing with the LA Clippers. They’d be great complements to each other, Leonard told Durant. He’d always admired him and had tremendous respect for him as a competitor. Durant was flattered and more than a little stunned, according to sources close to the situation. He didn’t know Leonard that well, so getting a recruiting call like that made a real impression.”
Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant would have formed an incredible tandem in Los Angeles. Leonard and Durant are currently considered two of the best two-way players in the NBA, and when both are healthy, they could turn the Clippers from a mediocre team into a legitimate title contender in the deep Western Conference. Unfortunately for Leonard, though Durant was intrigued by the idea of playing with him, he was already determined to join the Nets, even before the 2019 NBA free agency started.
Report: Kevin Durant forced Warriors to give Nets a first-round pick in sign-and-trade https://t.co/WkmIZoICe8— Mercury News (@mercnews) July 13, 2019
Kawhi Leonard also tried recruiting Kyrie Irving to the Clippers, but like Kevin Durant, “Uncle Drew” also ended up joining the Nets in free agency. Luckily, despite failing to acquire Durant and Irving on the free agency market, the Clippers still found a way to land a second superstar who will play alongside Leonard in the 2019-20 NBA season.
Before reaching an agreement with Leonard, the Clippers engaged in a blockbuster deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder, trading Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and future first-round picks for Paul George.
With the successful acquisition of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers are currently considered one of the favorites to win the 2020 NBA championship. Meanwhile, the addition of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan made the Nets a team to fear in the Eastern Conference. However, fans will need to wait a little longer to see Durant play on the court, as he is expected to spend most of the 2019-20 NBA season recovering from injury.