So Kawhi Leonard was spotted at a Dodgers game in Los Angeles when trade rumors involving him and the Lakers are at an all-time high. That doesn’t sound like it could stir up speculation at all.
The 26-year-old former Defensive Player of the Year was nowhere to be found during the San Antonio Spurs’ first round playoff series with the Golden State Warriors, a series the Spurs ended up losing in five games. However, he did return to San Antonio for the Spurs’ exit interviews on April 26, according to Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News, but the Spurs’ exit interviews are closed to the media.
Two weeks later and Leonard comes out of whatever hole he was hiding in to make an appearance at a Dodgers game when he’s been linked to the Lakers since before the offseason started? That can’t sit well with Spurs fans or the organization.
It's been just over two weeks since the Spurs were eliminated. Kawhi Leonard wasn't able to attend a single playoff game.— The Ringer (@ringer) May 11, 2018
Tonight, he caught a Dodgers game in LA. This will definitely be your Laker fan-friend's new favorite video.
( courtesy @Mike_delaPena) pic.twitter.com/EimDhUCcdj
Leonard’s appearance at a Dodgers game when rumors of him coming home are at an all-time is reminiscent of when Paul George went on Jimmy Kimmel Live! while rumors about him angling a move to the Lakers were heating up. Needless to say, Leonard’s situation this summer will be one worth keeping an eye on.
While some suspect Leonard and his camp will force a trade to a bigger market like Los Angeles sooner rather than later in hopes of boosting his marketability, others are guessing Leonard will wait to test unrestricted free agency in 2019. If the latter is true, the Lakers are considered the favorites to land the two-time All-Star, according to Ken Berger of Bleacher Report.
It’s commonly heard on the front office grapevine that Leonard is eyeing the Lakers as a free agent in 2019. One of the Western Conference executives noted it’s no accident that the Lakers reportedly have shifted their free-agent plans to focus on the ’19 class (which Leonard may headline), according to Shelburne and ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski, as opposed to a quick fix this summer.
“That’s why [the Lakers] are spinning it into ‘wait till next year,’” the executive said. “They know they can get Kawhi.”
Even if LaVar Ball doesn’t think so, Leonard would be a fine addition to the Lakers’ roster. However, until Leonard is at STAPLES Center on opening night, all of these rumors will be just that—rumors.
You can follow Christian Rivas on Twitter @RadRivas.