When Anthony Davis made the decision to waive his $4 million trade kicker for the Los Angeles Lakers, he did so with one player in mind: Kawhi Leonard. Had Davis declined to waive his trade bonus, the Lakers would have been limited to just $28 million, or $4.7 million of Leonard’s max.
Unfortunately, the Lakers lost the Leonard sweepstakes even in spite of Davis’ act of generosity and to add insult to injury, they lost to their cross-town rivals, the LA Clippers. In a recent interview on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, Davis admitted that he thinks the Lakers would have been the title favorites if they signed Leonard, but he said he’s still looking forward to the season ahead even in spite of missing out on Leonard and is even more excited to take on the Clippers:
Were you disappointed that Kawhi signed with the Clippers, or are you excited about the challenge of having that inter-city rivalry?
”I’m never disappointed for another man. (He’s) a grown man. Obviously us having him would definitely... you could have marked it up as champions right there, but the Staples Center is going to be a lot of fun this year. Two great teams. Obviously we’ve brought a lot of excitement back to the Lakers organization, where it’s supposed to be, what all the fans are used to. So that’s going to be fun, and every night going into Staples -- especially against the Clippers -- it’s going to be a battle. I’m pretty excited about it... I’m excited to be here.”
It’s hard to argue that a trio of Leonard, Davis and LeBron James wouldn’t have dominated the Western Conference—and eventually the NBA Playoffs—but because of Leonard’s decision to sign with the Clippers, the west is the most balanced it’s been in years. Los Angeles basketball is also the most exciting it has ever been.
A small price to pay for salvation.
We’ll see who the better Los Angeles team is when the season is over but with four matchups between the two and the potential for more in the postseason, there will be no shortage of opportunities for both the Lakers and Clippers to make their case.