Kawhi Leonard may have played the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency. A report on Friday suggests the Lakers think Leonard manipulated them throughout the process, all the while knowing he wouldn’t be picking the franchise in the end.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported the following on Friday:
“I’ve heard complaints in the days after the signing. I heard complaints from the Lakers that they got played. I heard complaints from the Raptors that Kawhi came in and asked for the sun, the moon, the stars then left them at the altar.”
NBC Sports continued with this assessment:
The implication: Leonard knew all along wasn’t signing with the Lakers, waited a week into free agency so other top free agents would commit elsewhere then announced his decision just to sabotage the Lakers.
To be fair to Leonard, the Lakers had to know they were taking a huge risk by waiting for Leonard to make a decision. Hell, I wrote about how dangerous it was to wait for Kawhi to make a decision. Ultimately, he chose to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers after they worked a trade for Paul George.
If the Lakers feel they got played by Uncle Dennis and Kawhi, it’s their own fault for allowing themselves to get suckered.
In the end, the franchise wound up rounding out its roster well even without Leonard. But the Lakers missed out on a bunch of players who could have helped while they stood by and waited for Leonard to sign.