Four Reasons Kawhi Chooses Lakers!
Here’s why Kawhi Leonard will choose to join the Los Angeles Lakers over the Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto Raptors
Somewhere between June 2018 when he asked the Spurs to trade him to Los Angeles, preferably to the Lakers, and July 2019 when LeBron James signed with Lakers, Kawhi allegedly decided he wanted to play for the Clippers.
None of this, of course, has ever been confirmed by Kawhi or anybody in his camp but instead has been the interpretation of reporters and pundits due to comments made by Kawhi that he had no interest in joining a superteam and didn’t like the media circus surrounding LeBron and the Los Angeles Lakers. Now as Leonard enters free agency after winning a championship with the Raptors, the question is whether the Los Angeles Lakers are still an option.
There’s no superstar more enigmatic or inscrutable than Kawhi Leonard, who values his privacy and keeps his cards close to his vest. The reality is nobody knows for sure what Kawhi is going to do or with whom he is going to sign. But when you look at what he’s said in the past and at the three teams who appear to be the logical destinations for him in free agency, there are certain signs that can be read that say he’s likely headed to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Here are four reasons why I think Kawhi Leonard is going to chose the Lakers:
1. Coming Home.
As much as Kawhi has enjoyed winning his second NBA championship ring in Toronto, I think he’s still set on coming home to Los Angeles and the Lakers. Remaining in Toronto, even for just two more years to be eligible for the 35% max salary for players with ten years in the league, is likely not in the cards. Kawhi grew up in Southern California and his goal since the summer of 2018 has been to return home and play in front of his family in Los Angeles.
As for whether he prefers to play for the Lakers or the Clippers, it’s important to remember that Kawhi, like most kids in Southern California, grew up as a diehard Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers fan. You can bet that when he meets with the Lakers in free agency, Kobe Bryant is going to be there along with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Coming home means more to Kawhi than just L.A. Coming home is going to mean donning the purple and gold.
2. More Championships.
Five years after he won his first NBA championship and Finals MVP awards, Kawhi Leonard got a second chance to experience why he plays the game by winning his second NBA championship and his second Finals MVP award. That reminder of how it feels to be on top of the basketball world will color his decision as to the team he chooses to go to in free agency this summer and ultimately will steer him to go to the team with the best chance of winning.
Make no mistake, joining the Los Angeles Lakers to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis is going to be irresistible to Kawhi Leonard this summer because it would make the Lakers odds on favorites to win a championship. There’s no superstar other than Kawhi Leonard showing serious interest in the Los Angeles Clippers at this point in time and Kawhi’s smart enough to understand that he’s not going to win a ring by joining the Clippers alone.
3. Load Management.
One of the important comments Kawhi recently made which did not get the attention it deserved was that playing for a superteam where he could play fewer minutes and take games off to extend his career could be a benefit. A big reason why Kawhi Leonard was able to remain healthy and enjoy such a successful playoff run was he only played in sixty of the eighty-two regular season games for the Raptors this season as a result of load management.
Playing with two other superstars like LeBron James and Anthony Davis would be the ideal situation for Kawhi Leonard. It would enable him to play fewer minutes per game and fewer games than if he went to the Clippers. That’s something that could add years and hundreds of million dollars to Kawhi’s career. After losing a year due to injury with the Spurs and thriving with fewer games with the Raptors, load management’s going to be a factor.
4. More Privacy.
In many ways, Kawhi Leonard does not really want to be a superstar with all of the publicity, media attention, and inevitable loss of privacy that entails. It’s not why he plays the game and something he clearly would prefer to avoid. In many ways, playing on the Lakers with LeBron James and Anthony Davis would be the perfect solution as Kawhi could fade into the background and let LeBron and AD deal with the media circus that surrounds the Lakers.
That’s something Kawhi would not be able to do were he to remain in Toronto or sign as the only superstar on the Los Angeles Clippers, where he would be the prime attraction and on the spot after every single basketball game. With the Lakers, Kawhi could focus on just playing and let his game speak for him. For a player who values his privacy like Kawhi does, it’s the perfect solution. With the Raptors or Clippers, he’s always going to be the center of attention.
The opportunity to come home and play for the team he grew up rooting for, the chance to win more championships, the benefit of being able to extend his career with load management, and the ability to preserve his privacy are the four reasons why Kawhi Leonard will choose the Lakers in free agency.