The Los Angeles Lakers have landed a meeting with the most coveted free agent in the market. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, Kawhi Leonard will meet with the organization when free agency opens on June 30th, ahead of his free agency decision.
Leonard will also be meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto Raptors while the New York Knicks also try to secure a meeting with the 2-time Finals MVP.
Leonard is fresh off a championship and a Finals MVP after being traded to the Toronto Raptors last summer. Before that move, he had requested a trade from the Spurs with a focus on returning to Southern California, where he grew up.
Since then, the Raptors have done everything correctly to keep their star acquisition while the Clippers have emerged as the team most likely to poach him away with season-long recruiting efforts.
The Lakers, however, feel they have a case as strong as anyone else with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in tow. It’s unclear whether Leonard would feel comfortable leaving a situation as the top player on a title-winning team to join two other stars on a super team but if he does, the Lakers offer the best possibility.
If Leonard does decide to sign with the Lakers, the team manipulating its cap sheet further to clear the space to sign a max free agent will have paid off. They were able to do this by trading Moe Wagner, Jemerrio Jones, and Isaac Bonga to the Washington Wizards. Anthony Davis also had a part in the process by waiving his $4.1 million trade kicker.
Regardless of the cap gymnastics and the little money that would be available after the signing, Leonard is the type of player that the team would clearly be willing to make those moves for.
Leonard averaged 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season while shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from the 3-point line.