Back in January, former NBA player and now current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose said the relationship between the San Antonio Spurs and star Kawhi Leonard was fractured, and pretty much no one believed him.
Fast forward to today, and Rose looks like the smartest guy on the planet, as he was the first person to report that Leonard wouldn’t play for the Spurs again.
San Antonio traded Leonard and shooting guard Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for swingman DeMar DeRozan, big man Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick. Leonard can become an unrestricted free agent in 2019 if he declines his 2019-20 player option, something he is very likely to do considering more money is available to him on the open market.
When Leonard requested a trade from the Spurs, the All-Star small forward reportedly asked to be sent to Los Angeles, either to the Lakers or Clippers. Everyone surmised Leonard prefered the Lakers since they have a brighter future than the Clippers, but according to Rose, that may not be the case anymore.
While discussing Leonard’s future on ESPN’s Get Up this week, Rose said if Leonard does leave Toronto for Los Angeles, it will be for the Clippers, and not the Lakers.
In July, The Athletic’s Shams Charania suggested Kawhi Leonard might not be enamored playing for the Lakers now that LeBron James is on the team. James signed a four-year free agent deal with the Lakers in July.
“I don’t think Kawhi Leonard is jumping for joy now that LeBron is a Laker,” Charania said. “If anything, he’ll be more open to joining the Clippers now.”
Kawhi Leonard is a low-maintenance guy and wants to stay away from the media hoopla which comes with playing on a James-led team, so it’s not a surprise these reports have come out.