Kawhi Leonard‘s impending free agency feels wide open.
He engineered a trade from the Spurs, recently widely considered the model organization. For an in-his-prime superstar, he has almost no connection to his current team, the Raptors. The Clippers are reportedly frontrunner to sign him, though the Lakers offer equal proximity to his native Southern California.
But the Leonard, unlike many from that region, didn’t grow up a Lakers fan.
Leonard, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN:
“I wasn’t at all,” Leonard said Saturday. “My family was, but I wasn’t.
“I liked Allen Iverson, I was an A.I. fan, so I didn’t like the Lakers.”
Does this mean Leonard disliked the Lakers, who beat Iverson’s 76ers in the 2001 NBA Finals? Or did Leonard merely not care about the Lakers while focused on Iverson?
The former would be more telling, though not necessarily significant. Plenty of players get far past childhood rooting interests by the time they reach the NBA.
Heck, Paul George (a Clippers fan growing up) said he’ll “always” want to play for the Lakers even while arranging to re-sign with the Thunder without even meeting with the Lakers last summer. These things matter only so much.
But Leonard’s decision will affect the league so much, and clues about his future are scant. I’ll take what I can get.