While the Lakers were confident — LeBron James had pitched Leonard, and Magic Johnson had spoken to him as well, and the Lakers thought those talks went well — the official meeting with Leonard was just team governor Jeanie Buss and GM Rob Pelinka.
The Lakers like to do those meetings at their practice facility in El Segundo — where the championship trophies are lined up in the window — but Leonard asked for a different location. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN found out why.
The Lakers meeting with Kawhi Leonard was Tues afternoon at a hotel in Westlake Village. Only Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka were there, at KL’s request. The location had been switched from El Segundo, at KL’s request, w/ in 24 hrs. It appears KL met with PG, nearby, same day.
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 6, 2019
This speaks to Leonard’s mindset. Maybe he would have chosen the Lakers if the Paul George trade didn’t happen, but the fact Leonard did this speaks to how much he wanted it to.
Sources told me a year ago that the bright lights and fishbowl nature of being on the Lakers was just not in Leonard’s nature, that the Clippers were a better cultural fit. That may be true, but the Lakers had the talent to win with LeBron and Anthony Davis. So Leonard made sure the talent got to the Clippers. That was his true desire.
The Lakers ended up being the leverage George needed to get what he wanted.
You can’t say Leonard learned nothing from LeBron, because that was a bold, take charge of your own destiny move.