Kawhi Leonard is the biggest free agent set to hit the NBA's open market and the reigning Finals MVP is expected to be recruited by several notable franchises. Only a couple, though, likely have somewhat of a chance at landing him.
The star forward has been linked the most to the Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.
The Lakers, as of late, have appeared to gain steam, having cleared space for another max free agent. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are reportedly expected to do some serious recruiting, as well.
A Toronto Raptors insider isn't buying the Lakers hype, though. He believes it'll be a two-team race for Leonard when it comes down to it.
"Despite reports that the Lakers are gaining steam in the race for Kawhi (almost certainly leaked by the Lakers themselves), I’m still expecting this to come down to Raptors vs Clippers," Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports reports.
Lewenberg listed out a couple of reasons for this thinking, as well:
"1) Where’s the depth coming from? How do they plan to build around Kawhi/LeBron/AD? They’d have to fill out the rest of their roster with vet minimums (and won’t have picks for the foreseeable future). Tough sell for a guy that figures to want/need some amount of load management."
"2) Drama drama drama. Kawhi is famously low-key/no-nonsense. One of the things he appreciated about his season with the Raptors, as he told ESPN, was that any behind-the-scenes issues they had stayed in-house. Think that happens in LA?"
"3) Doubt Kawhi cares about the off-court implications of sharing the spotlight (attention, etc), but my sense is he liked being the focal point offensively. He wants the ball in hands/things going through him. Can’t see him relinquishing that, even if LeBron/AD promise to defer."
Those are all fair points, however, the Lakers do have LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and the allure of playing alongside those two - for Los Angeles' premier team - could simply be too much to pass on.
Kawhi has already won multiple NBA championships as his team's clear best player. He has nothing more to prove. If he decides to just head to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers, would anyone really blame him?
We'll find out soon.
NBA free agency is set to begin at 6 p.m. E.T.