According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Clippers are not only Jimmy Butler’s preferred destination, but are now “emerging as a front-runner” for Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers will have two max contract slots available in July and if they are able to add both Butler – via trade – and Leonard in the next 10 months, a disaster could be brewing for their in-city rivals.
The rumors of Leonard to the Clippers picked back up last week when Jalen Rose was adamant that if Leonard comes to Los Angeles it will be to become a Clipper, not a Laker. Rose echoed sentiments from Shams Charania in July that the reason stems from Leonard not wanting to play in the shadow of LeBron James. Like Leonard, Woj is also reporting Butler prefers the Clippers because of LeBron’s arrival.
The common saying is that the Lakers will add somebody to play with LeBron next summer, meaning a superstar. However, that is beginning to look less and less promising. The star-studded 2019 free agent class is not exactly filled with players impatiently trying to play next to LeBron.
The three stars that are set to join Butler and Leonard in free agency are Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Kyrie Irving. It must be presumed Irving wants to play with LeBron even less than Butler and Leonard reportedly do. With Thompson expected to re-sign in Golden State, it leaves just one player …
Could the somebody that joins LeBron be the somebody that poses the biggest threat to his place as the best player in the NBA?
It is well documented the friendship Durant and LeBron have. The two of them have even been seen together numerous times this summer. LeBron would likely be all for this move. Stephen A. Smith reported that LeBron actually texted Durant about coming to Los Angeles before he officially became a Laker in June. At the moment, however, there is no evidence or buzz indicating Durant is even in the cards for the Lakers.
If they have to settle for a Kemba Walker-type player, it would undoubtedly be a major disappointment for a team, player, and city with the highest of expectations.
The next star to join the Lakers is going be a season-long story, and right now, it sure sounds as if the Clippers are front-runners to make their city rivals’ options much more scarce than expected.