Throughout the season, one of the underlying storylines around the league has been the pending future of All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard next summer when he enters free agency.
There has been a growing assumption that it will be between the two Los Angeles teams vying for his services in free agency. According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, the L.A. Clippers are still ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers in that regard.
A survey of several league executives this weekend had the Lakers trailing, even among Staples Center tenants, in the competition to get Leonard, with the LA Clippers universally being placed ahead of them. Rather than seeking to team up with James, the thinking is that Leonard would prefer to have control of his own team, which the Clippers would offer, while still giving him the ability to return to his native Southern California.
It is still quite early in the entire situation given that free agency is still several months away, but it does paint the picture that the Clippers will be in the race for Leonard’s services. The team has already positioned itself to be able to offer him a long-term deal.
At the same time, the Lakers also have enough salary cap space to offer him a max contract as well if he’s interested in joining the mix. There have been many conflicting reports that have ranged in his level of interest over the last few months.
Regardless of that being the case, the Lakers are expected to be aggressive to secure his services if he does entertain the idea of possibly signing with them to pair him alongside LeBron James. It could become a very intense battle for Leonard, but until then this is purely all speculation about what his future plans are for next offseason.