While Kawhi Leonard was expected to meet with teams once free agency began, he will not take any meetings on June 30, per Chris Haynes. Leonard will “ramp up the process” over the next couple days.
The Lakers, Clippers, Raptors, and Knicks appear to be the top contenders to sign Leonard, though with the Knicks missing out on Durant, they are severely behind the three other teams in Leonard Sweepstakes.
Below we’ve summarized and outlined various reports that have come in about the superstar’s potential landing spot. Other teams may be interested in Leonard but these are the teams that we feel have the most traction.
As news breaks and we learn more about where Leonard stands regarding free agency, we’ll update this briefing. Similarly, if other teams appear to gain ground in their own pursuit of Leonard, we’ll add them here.
|Team||Proj. Salary Cap||Meeting?|
|Los Angeles Clippers||$52,928,034||Scheduled|
|Los Angeles Lakers||$32,021,519||Scheduled|
|New York Knicks||$35,620,119||Reported|
Los Angeles Clippers
Salary Cap Room: $52,928,034*
The Clippers have the ability to sign two max players, though they haven’t quite done that yet. The above figure assumes the team renounces the rights to Patrick Beverley, Wilson Chandler, JaMychal Green, and Garrett Temple.
Other decisions, such as retaining or renouncing Ivica Zubac’s rights, likely won’t be made until the franchise secures a pair of stars (or finds other reasons to use the cap room). The Clippers will likely need to trade one of their players with a guaranteed salary to get to two max slots, though they should have no problem finding a taker for any of their players on a sizeable salary.
It’s unclear if pairing Leonard with another star will be a prerequisite for him signing with the Clippers. Kevin Durant and Leonard have discussed scenarios where they play together and Los Angeles would be a strong possibility if they decide to team up. The franchise certainly hopes to land two stars.
Doc Rivers & Co. will meet with Leonard before the Raptors get a chance to pitch him. The Clippers were, at times this season, seen as the favorite for Leonard’s services, though their cross-town rivals’ acquisition of Anthony Davis complicates matters. What was once seen as the smarter, safer, more responsible franchise in Southern California may once again be second place in its own city.
Los Angeles Lakers
Salary Cap Room: $32,021,519*
The Lakers have emerged as a legitimate contender for Leonard’s services. Leonard will begin his free agency tour in Los Angeles and may have multiple meetings that are Lakers related. Magic Johnson, who was previously the team’s president of basketball operations, will not be permitted in the franchise’s official pitch but could have a separate meeting with Leonard.
New York Knicks
Salary Cap Room: $34,871,920*
Like the Clippers, the Knicks have the ability to easily carve out two max slots but have yet to do so. Renouncing DeAndre Jordan and Mario Hezonja will give them ability to sign someone with Leonard’s experience and a co-star.
Leonard and Durant have discussed playing together the Knicks alongside the Clippers have been cited as the main possibilities. Durant has long-been rumored to be heading to the Big Apple. The Knicks have been pursuing a meeting with Leonard and it appears one is in the making, though no time is set as of this writing.
*Cap room is based on off a $109,000,000 projected salary cap for the 2019/20 season.
Projected Cap Room: $0
Leonard is expected to allow Toronto to make the final pitch to him and the franchise is a serious contender for his services next season. If he re-signs with the Raptors, it could be on a short-term, max contract, likely with a player option within it. Toronto would be happy to allow Leonard whatever deal gives them a chance to run it back.