1. The Los Angeles Lakers will snag Kawhi Leonard
It’s all been building to this. Kevin Durant re-signing with the Warriors would obviously take one of the summer’s biggest names off the market, but the real reason the Clippers and Knicks miss out on landing a game-changer this summer is that the biggest one of them all will be taking his talents to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Despite the Raptors winning it all (and being fully capable of running it back in 2020), despite the Clippers being a top suitor for the Klaw and despite the prestigious Knicks scraping to get in on the action, the Lakers have to be taken seriously as a suitor for the reigning Finals MVP, who’s coming off one of the most brilliant individual playoff runs ever.
This was a originally considered a two-horse race between the Clippers and Raptors, but with the revised Anthony Davis trade that got the Lakers to max cap space, L.A.’s more prominent franchise came barreling down the pitch out of nowhere. Once the Lakers shed three fringe NBA players and AD waived his $4 million trade kicker, the path to a max offer for Kawhi became clear.
Whether or not he bites remains to be seen. Reports from not so long ago suggested Leonard didn’t want to play with LeBron James, and a quiet guy like that doesn’t seem like a fit for the media attention and constant coverage that the Lakers, LeBron and Hollywood in general receive on a day-to-day basis. Kawhi is from and loves the L.A. area, but restoring the lesser Clippers feels more fitting for his character.
With that being said, and despite the Raptors’ obvious path to another championship quest, the Lakers have secured a meeting with Leonard, and in that meeting, it may be hard for anyone to walk away from “We can assemble the greatest Big 3 in NBA history.” And make no mistake about it, that’s exactly what a trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard would be.
At that point, the Lakers could treat their roster-building like the plot of Space Jam 2, round out the rotation with Daffy Duck and Foghorn Leghorn on minimum contracts and still be the heavy title favorites. Splitting the cap space on third-tier, complementary players sounds nice on paper, but adding a third superstar ensures role players will join the mix to win titles. It’s just the way to go here if a two-way force like Kawhi is interested.
The Clippers and Raptors have very strong cases to secure Kawhi Leonard’s signature, but the Lakers could boast three of the best 5-7 players in the NBA, the Klaw would get to return to L.A. and he wouldn’t have to sacrifice anything with a new max deal. When you really think about it, this “bold prediction” really doesn’t sound as bold as it did two weeks ago.