With Kawhi Leonard trying to determine his future, the rest of the league is hoping it doesn’t include the Los Angeles Lakers. The 2019 NBA Finals MVP is considering joining LeBron James and Anthony Davis in a move that would make L.A. the prohibitive favorites for years to come.

A few weeks ago, the Lakers appeared to have little chance to land Leonard. He just won a championship with the Toronto Raptors, and the team can offer him the most lucrative contract. The Los Angeles Clippers had long been viewed as the favorites to sign Leonard, who reportedly had his eyes on signing with the franchise.

It’s since become clear it’s a three-team race in the Kawhi Leonard Sweepstakes. Why are the Lakers such a threat to sign the NBA’s best free agent?

Here are three reasons why Leonard might sign with the Lakers:

The Appeal of Los Angeles

It’s no secret that Leonard has wanted to play in L.A. for some time. When he asked to be traded from the San Antonio Spurs last summer, Leonard hoped to be sent to the Lakers. He’s from Los Angeles and played college basketball at nearby San Diego State University. Leonard reportedly bought a $13.3 million home in San Diego during the season. Even if Leonard wasn’t from the west coast, who could blame him for wanting to leave Toronto for the warm weather of Southern California?

Leonard would technically be taking less money on his next contract by leaving the Raptors for the Lakers, but he could make up that difference by increasing his star power in L.A. Playing for the Lakers would strengthen Leonard’s brand. The superstar might not be as open about wanting to expand his celebrity as players like James and Davis, but it’s clear that he does care about pursuits off the court.

Load Management

Leonard was the poster boy for load management this past year. After a leg injury cost him almost the entire 2017-2018 season, Leonard took a cautious approach to his first year in Toronto, playing just 60 games. It resulted in Leonard being able to stay healthy for the postseason, where he had one of the best individual playoff runs in history, though he began to wear down as he carried the Raptors to the finish line.

Signing with the Lakers would allow Leonard to coast in a way that he couldn’t with the Raptors or Clippers. Leonard wouldn’t be forced to carry the Lakers with James and Davis on the roster. He could be the third option on many nights, in addition to missing 25 percent of the regular-season games. That won’t be the case with the Raptors or Clippers, who don’t have another star on the roster, let alone two top-10 players.


The Lakers clearly give Leonard his best chance to win. He would help complete maybe the best trio in NBA history. The Lakers would take the mantle previously held by James’ Miami Heat and Kevin Durant’s Golden State Warriors, dominating the league for years to come. It doesn’t matter what the rest of the Lakers’ roster looks like: Leonard, James and Davis would win multiple titles.

Leonard has nothing left to prove. He’s already won two Finals MVP awards and shown he can be the best player on a championship team. He ended the Miami and Golden State dynasties, preventing them from completing a three-peat. We don’t take anything away from James’ titles as part of a Big 3 with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and history will look upon Leonard as the ultimate winner if he leaves the NBA with four or five rings.

Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors reacts after missing a foul shot against the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 3, 2019. Ronald Cortes/Getty Images