In Year 1 with the Toronto Raptors, Kawhi Leonard announced himself as perhaps the best basketball player on the planet while leading the team to its first championship in franchise history.
Now a two-time NBA Finals MVP who has stopped both LeBron James' Miami Heat and Steph Curry's Warriors from three-peating, Leonard has carte blanche to do whatever he chooses as a free agent this summer.
While it has seemed like Leonard either would choose to run it back with the Raptors or head to the Los Angeles Clippers, James' new team, the Lakers, reportedly have entered the fray.
After the Lakers cleared enough money for a max spot Thursday, ESPN's Stephen A, Smith reported Friday on "Get Up!" that he is being told Leonard "is seriously considering" joining James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers in free agency.
"I have received the word that Kawhi Leonard is seriously considering the Los Angeles Lakers."
-@stephenasmith pic.twitter.com/dyfeOct6md— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) June 28, 2019
With the Warriors entering next season battered and bruised from their devastating NBA Finals loss to the Raptors, teams are salivating at the mouth for the chance to knock the crown off the king's head.
Klay Thompson (torn ACL) and Kevin Durant (ruptured Achilles) both face lengthy rehabs and could leave for new teams altogether as free agents this summer. While the Warriors reportedly have a plan to keep their title-winning team intact, the Lakers are going for the jugular by targeting Leonard as the third piece of what would be the most impressive "Big Three" in the Superteam era.
Now, is it likely that Leonard, who seems like the anti-superteam star, joins James, Davis and the Lakers? I wouldn't put money on it.
That being said, the Lakers do present some things that would appear to be attractive to the two-time NBA Finals MVP.
Firstly, it has been assumed that Leonard desires to head back to Southern California, where he grew up and attended San Diego State University. Box checked.
Secondly, if Leonard wants to capitalize on his return to the spotlight this past season, becoming the face of the "new Lakers," along with Davis, would make him one of the most marketable stars in the NBA, something he appears to want after his shoe deal with Jordan Brand reportedly broke down because his camp didn't think the deal "reflected his accomplishments and standing within the league."
If Leonard, who is once again is one of the faces of the NBA, wants that recognition, heading to the star capital of the world to bring a title back to the league's marquee franchise might not be a bad place to start.
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Should Leonard elect to join James and Davis, the Lakers undoubtedly would be the NBA favorites next season and beyond. If the Warriors are unable to retain both Thompson and Durant, Golden State would have to reshape its roster in order to contend with the new Leonard-James-Davis triumvirate.
Watching the Splash Brothers, Draymond Green and a re-tooled Warriors team go from the hunted to the hunter against LeBron and Co. would make for an all-time must-see rivalry.