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ESPN Predicts What Team Kawhi Leonard Will Play For In 2019

kawhi leonard speaks at nba all-star weekend

This offseason, the Kawhi Leonard drama was the second-biggest storyline after LeBron James' free agency. Leonard was finally traded to the Toronto Raptors.

The Los Angeles Lakers were thought to be the favorites to land Leonard via trade, but he wound up in Canada. Still, many expect he will sign with the Lakers in free agency next summer.

Kawhi is a California native and his desire to play in LA is no secret. If the Lakers get him, they'll have a legit second star to play with LeBron.

ESPN released some predictions for the projected top free agents next summer. The ESPN Forecast Panel voted their choices for each player.

An overwhelming 57.6 percent of panelists think Kawhi will be a Laker next year. That tops the Raptors (27.3) and Clippers (15.1).

The Lakers weren't able to swing a trade for the former Finals MVP this summer, but the majority of our panel still thinks Leonard will be wearing purple and gold in 2019-20.

Leonard has reportedly stated his preference for playing in Los Angeles, making James' new squad the front-runners for when Leonard becomes a free agent next summer. Their Staples Center neighbors, the Clippers, also received votes, finishing just behind Toronto, the team that was able to eventually pry Leonard out of San Antonio.

Because of the Lakers' use of one-year contracts this offseason, they will almost certainly have the cap space necessary to lure Leonard back over the border in 2019.

If Toronto is able to sign Kawhi long-term, it would be a surprise and a major coup for the franchise.

However, our gut says he goes to Tinseltown, and most likely the Lakers, even though the Clippers made a unique move this week to prepare to recruit him in free agency.