We witnessed the most intriguing free agency in NBA history this summer, and one free agency story is especially interesting. Superstars like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Kyrie Irving made their decisions early in the free agency, but the most sought-after one waited with his. A two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
The Los Angeles Lakers were the favorites to land Kawhi Leonard, and the entire league expected that outcome, but the Klaw thought otherwise. Kawhi’s former team Toronto fell out of picture and Leonard did go to Los Angeles, but he chose the Clippers instead of the Lakers. He wanted to see Paul George along with him in Doc Rivers’ team and the Clippers granted Kawhi’s wish, which played a huge role in Leonard’s decision to snub the Lakers.
The Lakers waited for Kawhi for so long that they missed out on All-Star point guards D’Angelo Russell and Kemba Walker. They went to the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics, respectively. Frank Vogel’s side did add DeMarcus Cousins and Danny Green, and re-signed Rajon Rondo , but the Lakers were left without a superstar in the free agency.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Lakers felt betrayed by Kawhi Leonard after he joined the Clippers. “I’ve heard complaints in the days after the signing. I heard complaints from the Lakers that they got played. I heard complaints from the Raptors that Kawhi came in and asked for the sun, the moon, and the stars then left them at the altar,” Windhorst said on ESPN’s “The Hoop Collective.”
“I kind of think they were all still in the game, and they all felt like they were still in the game. If Toronto did not still feel like they were in the game, they would not have sent the plane for him, they would not have done the big presentation. If the Lakers didn’t think that they were still in the game, they would not have delayed the Anthony Davis trade like they did to wait and see if they could get him,” he added.