The Los Angeles Lakers will be meeting with Kawhi Leonard early next week as the free agency period begins. According to the LA Times’ Brad Turner, that meeting will include team owner Jeanie Buss and former team president Magic Johnson.
Sources. Kawhi Leonard’s people plan on meeting with Lakers president Jeanie Buss and Magic Johnson next week when free agency starts. Will most likely be in LA
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) June 28, 2019
Johnson resigned from his position at the conclusion of the regular season. Since then, he has been accused of fostering an abusive working environment and he has accused Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka of working behind his back to ruin his reputation.
Magic has also stated that he has been in communication with Buss, a close friend, and has encouraged her and the organization to make offseason moves like the one to acquire Anthony Davis.
Last summer, Johnson was the only member of the Lakers’ brass to meet with LeBron James before the star made his decision to sign with the organization. Magic has been praised as the “closer” of that negotiation.
According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, both LeBron James and Anthony Davis will also be formally recruiting Leonard. However, Davis’ inclusion may not be possible because he will still be under contract with the Pelicans when the meeting occurs.
The phrasing of Turner’s report that Leonard’s “people” will meet with the Lakers may also be significant but prior reports have indicated that Leonard himself will be present at the meeting.
Leonard is, by far, the most coveted free agent this summer. After winning a championship with the Toronto Raptors, most expect that they are in the driver’s seat to re-sign the Finals MVP. If he desires a return to his home of Southern California, most expect the Clippers to have a lead over the Lakers.
Nevertheless, the Lakers have freed up enough cap space to pay Leonard almost exactly the value of his max contract and have prioritized chasing him or Kyrie Irving to complete a big three in LA.