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NBA Free Agency Rumors: Lakers considered favorites to sign Kawhi Leonard in ESPN experts poll

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ESPN thinks the Lakers might be well on their way to two straight great summers, with LeBron James signing this offseason and Kawhi Leonard potentially on his way a year from now.

San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Four Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Heading into this past summer, quite a few detractors of the Los Angeles Lakers doubted that the front office could convince LeBron James to join the team coming off the lowest stretch in franchise history. Then, LeBron James agreed to join the team coming off the lowest stretch in franchise history.

(There’s a ton of other context in here that I will choose to ignore because suck it, haters don’t have time to bring up in this article so let’s just move on)

ESPN’s team of insiders put together a series of polls on outcomes for this season, the playoffs and next summer and, in discussing where various superstars might play after next summer, predicted that LeBron might have some elite company on the wing with him fairly soon. Here’s their summary of the situation:

The Lakers weren’t able to swing a trade for the former Finals MVP this summer, but the majority of our panel still thinks Leonard will be wearing purple and gold in 2019-20.

Leonard has reportedly stated his preference for playing in Los Angeles, making James’ new squad the front-runners for when Leonard becomes a free agent next summer. Their Staples Center neighbors, the Clippers, also received votes, finishing just behind Toronto, the team that was able to eventually pry Leonard out of San Antonio.

Because of the Lakers’ use of one-year contracts this offseason, they will almost certainly have the cap space necessary to lure Leonard back over the border in 2019.

The Lakers received 57.6 percent of the vote, with Toronto coming in second with 27.3 percent and the Clippers third at 15.1. The Clippers fired their color commentator for a mere shot at Leonard and earned themselves a 15 percent chance at him, according to this poll. It’s a good thing it’s Bruce Bowen, or else I’d really be laughing at them.

Back to the point at hand... Honestly, it’s damn near impossible to predict how this will play out.

On one hand, Kawhi’s camp has been very clear about his desire to play in Los Angeles for a variety of reasons. On the other, well, the reports on this story have been all over the place right from the get-go, and that isn’t at all helped by Kawhi saying a combined five words publicly throughout this entire process.

Over the course of this season, get ready for endless reports on how Leonard likes Toronto, how his camp feels about what’s going on with either team in Los Angeles, who he prefers to play with and all kinds of stories beyond that.

One thing’s for sure, though, you won’t be hearing any of that directly from Leonard, himself.