As soon as Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors, rumors started swirling about whether he would even report to camp or to the team at all this season. That was pretty quickly squashed, but speculation has continued about whether he actually wants to be there.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN offered an update on that situation, and, well, it’s the kind of thing fans of the Los Angeles Lakers (and Clippers for that matter) want to hear (via ESPN/Reddit).
“He’s going to play. He’ll be at training camp. He’s healthy. He may be at USA Basketball’s minicamp next week where Gregg Popvich is coaching. That’s possible. But, the one thing I was told today was: He’s starting to warm to the idea that he’s going to a contender. He’s got a team that can be as good as anybody in the Eastern Conference, and now it’s on Toronto to try to recruit him, to keep him. But, in his mind right now, he’s headed to L.A. next year.”
Not trading Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, two unprotected picks and another couple pick swaps down the road was inarguably the smart move. The San Antonio Spurs demanded that knowing the Lakers weren’t going to meet that asking price.
Yes, the Lakers are risking another Paul George situation, but at no point while George was in Oklahoma City last year did any reports like this come to the surface. Comparing George to Leonard is not the way to go about things here. George seemed open to re-signing in OKC almost as soon as he landed there.
Hell, George even went so far as to say the Lakers missed their chance by not trading for him.
Kawhi seems to be a lot more willing and able to stand by his word. His camp has made no qualms about it. He’s wanted to be in Los Angeles this entire time, and whether that’s with the Clippers or Lakers is fair to wonder about, but he’s stood firm on the destination city.
The Raptors have quite a bit of work to do to convince him otherwise, it would seem.