When the 2019 NBA free agency started, the Los Angeles Lakers were emerging as the heavy favorite to acquire reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. The Lakers reworked their blockbuster deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, one involving Anthony Davis, with the goal of creating enough salary cap space to sign Leonard. During that time, many people around the league were thinking that if Leonard really ended up joining LeBron James and Davis in Los Angeles, it would be better for opposing teams to just hand the 2020 NBA championship title to the Lakers.
When it came time for him to make a decision, Leonard pushed through with his plan to play for his hometown team. However, instead of joining the Lakers, he decided to sign with their Staples Center co-tenant, the Los Angeles Clippers. Though it broke the hearts of lots of Lakers fans, many fans and analysts believe that Leonard’s decision to join the Clippers could be good for the league, as it would make the upcoming 2019-20 NBA season more exciting and less predictable.
In an appearance on The Woj Pod, via YouTube, Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard C.J. McCollum said that he was “relieved” that Leonard chose the Clippers instead of forming a “Big Three” with Anthony Davis and LeBron James on the Lakers.
“Deep down, I was hoping he didn’t go there,” McCollum said, as transcribed by Lakers Nation. “I was looking at the roster, I was looking at what they were putting together, and you want to be in a position to win championships and to make runs and looking at that roster, they would’ve been a serious problem. You got LeBron… already a problem, you got AD… a super problem, and you add him and it becomes a World War II-type situation. They got the grenades and the atomic bombs all in one and guys who can play both sides of the ball, so I was relieved. I was like, ‘Oh that’s good, at least he didn’t go to the Lakers.'”
It’s hard to blame McCollum for feeling that way, especially knowing that the Trail Blazers are in the same conference as the Lakers. Had Leonard teamed up with James and Davis, the Lakers would have been a matchup nightmare for any powerhouse teams in the league. Luckily, Leonard decided to accept the challenge of helping the Clippers bring home their first Larry O’Brien Trophy, rather than taking a relatively easy path to win an NBA championship title.
Despite their failed acquisition of Leonard, the Lakers are still considered to be a legitimate threat in the Western Conference. According to a previous article from The Inquisitr, Coach Frank Vogel recently expressed strong confidence that the Lakers have the “pieces” to compete for an NBA championship title. Though they were unable to add a third superstar to their roster, the Lakers still managed to surround James and Davis with a quality supporting cast — one that gives them a higher chance of ending their title drought next season.