There has been a whole lot of smoke surrounding Kawhi Leonard in recent days. Some of it indicates that he might want to head to Los Angeles to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers, some of it makes it sound like he and Kevin Durant have discussed trying to figure out a way to team up on the Clippers or Knicks.
The scariest possibility is that one with the Lakers, because the league has never quite seen a three-man grouping like Davis, James, and Leonard. They are three of the five-best players in the world, and James and Leonard both have claims to being the best basketball player on the planet. It’s exciting, but there are also questions about how, exactly, things would work with three players that ball-dominant.
We got a bit of an answer from Sam Amick of The Athletic, who published a piece that gave a glimpse into James’ pitch to Leonard, one that involves taking a step back and let Leonard shine.
After the disastrous debut season of LeBron in Laker Land, where he missed a career-high 27 games (18 because of a groin strain) and missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2005 after EIGHT consecutive Finals appearances, he has no illusions about the height of the stakes here or the part that he needs and wants to play. And according to a source close to James, it’s this focus on being an incredible teammate that will be at the center of his message to Leonard.
He’ll make it clear that he’s truly willing to tailor his talents around theirs. He might dispel this notion that all the recent Lakers nonsense is their never-ending norm. He’ll candidly discuss the truth about the point he has reached in his legendary career, how his age and all those meaningful miles mean that Leonard and Davis could have the keys to this Lakers kingdom long after his playing days are done.
For how great James is, Father Time is undefeated, and while he’s shown tremendous resiliency over his career, he is very likely going to jump into the top-5 of minutes played in NBA history nest season if he stays healthy. Basically, for him to keep playing at a high level, it really is smart for him to take a step back. That’s easy with Davis in town, and would become even easier with he addition of Leonard.
Amick goes on to report that James’ camp has experienced “a recent upsurge in cautious optimism” due to the Lakers’ ability to give Leonard a place where he “can settle in with two future Hall of Famers during his prime.” It’s hard to peg down exactly what Leonard will do because he has so many options on the table, but should he decide to don the purple and gold, it is safe to guess all of this would be a major reason why.
(Via The Athletic)