Kawhi Leonard has somehow managed to overshadow Lebron James this offseason. That’s quite impressive considering Lebron’s in the GOAT conversation with Michael Jordan. Regardless of LBJ or MJ, Kawhi Leonard is the 2nd or 3rd best player in the league when fully healthy. I have him ahead of KD, but I don’t want people coming at me for saying Leonard is number 2 in the league. Kawhi has made it clear that he will make his way to LA one way or another whether it’s through being traded there now or signing there after next season. Everyone assumes he wants the Lakers, but he might just have to end up with the Clippers.
Why not the Lakers?
I can guarantee that at least 90% of the NBA would rather play for the Lakers than for the Clippers. The Lakers have either the second best or best legacy from a team standpoint only behind maybe the Celtics. Whereas, the Clippers have been the league’s joke for most of their existence. The Clips only hope was when they had the trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Deandre Jordan, but they never even made the Western Conference Finals together. Also, only Jordan remains from that trio. The Clippers need a resurgence badly and Kawhi can give that.
The Lakers will not get Kawhi this Offseason
Popovich is super old-fashioned and has let it be known that he will take a lesser offer to keep Kawhi out of the Western Conference. The Lakers are about as west as it gets. That means that Leonard is more than likely going to be traded to either the Celtics or the 76ers. Either of those teams would be Eastern Conference favorites with him on the squad. If he enjoys the winning culture there, then there’s no telling if he’d still want to leave at all. Thinking about it, maybe just being out of San Antonio will be enough for Kawhi.
Signing Leonard next Offseason will be Tricky
First, when I say tricky, it could be impossible to sign Leonard for the Lakers in the summer of 2019. The Lakers are hoping to add both Lebron James and Paul George this offseason. Doing that will be a very good step forward for them. Also, it means signing two guys to two max contracts. Doing that will mean no cap space whatsoever for Kawhi to join the Lakeshow. An option could be to trade Paul George away to create cap space, but I don’t believe Magic Johnson would be that scummy to PG13. So, if the Lakers want Kawhi that badly, they’ll need to hope either Lebron or Paul George don’t sign with them. Tricky scenarios.
How can the Clippers get Kawhi Leonard?
The Clippers won’t be able to trade for Kawhi this offseason as they simply do not have the necessary assets. Also, it’s good that they don’t have to trade for him this offseason. They can make both their lottery picks at 12 and 13. Those players can have a year of development and be paid super cheap. Collin Sexton could fall to them and be the perfect fit. Deandre Jordan can be the ultimate star of the team with amazing scoring from Lou Williams. Then, you can add Kawhi to that squad in the offseason of 2019. That team will be a very formidable threat in the Western Conference. With him on the Clippers as competition to the Warriors as well as Lakers, Rockets, and Celtics, the NBA will no longer be predictable.
Another Option: Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets just traded for Dwight Howard giving them the availability of two max contract slots in the summer of 2019. If Leonard get in contact with somebody to bring a team up from scratch, they can join the Nets together and create an Eastern Conference juggernaut. Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, and Hassan Whiteside are a few players who are free agents next offseason and could land in Brooklyn with Kawhi. The Nets will have a chance to get out of NBA purgatory and make something happen.
-Brandon Black (Follow @bhblack02)