After the successful acquisition of All-Star center Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans last summer, the Los Angeles Lakers became aggressive on the free agency market searching for their third superstar and tried to sign Kawhi Leonard. Unfortunately, though he really ended up leaving the Toronto Raptors after helping them win their first NBA championship title, Leonard chose to sign with the other L.A. team, the Los Angeles Clippers. However, aside from Leonard, rumors are currently circulating that the Lakers also targeted another superstar free agent in the 2019 offseason – All-Star point guard Kemba Walker of the Boston Celtics.
After failing to reach an agreement regarding a contract extension, Walker and the Charlotte Hornets decided to part ways in 2019. Before he was officially sent to the Celtics in a sign-and-trade deal, Sopan Deb of The New York Times revealed that the Lakers “heavily pursued” Walker last summer.
“But leaving Charlotte was a shock for Walker. He expected to stay, he said. Walker was eligible for a so-called supermax extension, but the Hornets came in with an offer that was less than that, conscious of paying the luxury tax,” Deb said, as quoted by Matt Peralta of Lakers Nation. “He began to consider other teams. At first, Walker said, he was heavily pursued by the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks and the team he grew up closest to, the Knicks. He considered going home.”
Had they succeeded to sign him in the 2019 free agency, Walker would have been an incredible addition to the Lakers. His arrival in Los Angeles would have enabled the Purple and Gold to create their own “Big Three” with Davis and LeBron James that would have given them a better chance of fully dominating the Western Conference and bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy this year. Having an All-Star caliber point guard like Walker would have been beneficial for James as it could ease the loads on his shoulders in terms of scoring and playmaking.
Luckily, despite failing to acquire Walker last summer, the Lakers still managed to live up to expectations from a legitimate title contender in the 2019-20 NBA season. After knocking out the Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets in the first two rounds of the 2020 Playoffs, the Lakers continue to keep their title hopes alive and are set to face the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.
Meanwhile, Walker and the Celtics succeeded to surpass the expectations from them this year. As of now, they are up against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.