Over this past offseason, star forward Kawhi Leonard made the decision to join the L.A. Clippers after a thorough recruiting process that involved meetings with both the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors for his services. However, Leonard wound up choosing to play for the Clippers, who had long been rumored to have significant interest in joining if he had entered free agency. With all that in mind, Kobe Bryant has chimed in on the situation, stating that he has a strong inkling of why the reigning NBA Finals MVP chose to sign with the Clippers.
Kawhi Leonard’s decision to join the Clippers
In the months leading up to the offseason, there had been the strong expectation that Leonard would wind up joining the Clippers in free agency.
However, the process was publicly muddied a bit, with the Lakers joining the process as it extended a few days longer than expected. It wound up being Leonard providing the Clippers with enough time to make a move to land All-Star forward Paul George to join him in Los Angeles to lead the charge.
It was a situation where the 28-year-old remained close to the vest, but his choice was never truly altered throughout the process as he made it clear from the get-go where he wanted to play the next chapter of his career.
Kobe Bryant believes Kawhi Leonard was driven by one factor to join Clippers
In the months that have followed, it has become quite clear that Leonard had honed in on joining the Clippers for quite some time with their never Geniunely being a legitimate chance he would have joined the Lakers.
There have been some intriguing perspectives on Leonard’s decision-making process around the league. Former Lakers great Kobe Bryant has chimed in on the matter, voicing that it may have simply come down to the Clippers’ new star wanting to take on the challenge of winning against LeBron James and not with him, according to Arash Markazi of the LA Times.
“I’m sure Kawhi wants to take the challenge of winning independent of playing with LeBron,” Bryant said. “Maybe that was the same for P.G. I think they relish the challenge of taking on something new. I don’t think it was a slight at the Lakers. It was more about circumstances and what was already here in L.A. and on the Lakers, and they wanted to take the challenge of building something new.
Leonard clearly has a strong drive to win, which joining forces with James may have been something that he wasn’t too fond of doing at this point in his career. He’s now in an opportunity where he can carve out his own legacy with another franchise that hasn’t reached the mountaintop of winning an NBA title.
Clippers’ future ahead with Kawhi Leonard
The Clippers have a tremendous level of championship expectations placed on them with Leonard and George leading the charge this season, especially with his new teammate placing a lofty label upon them both.
They got their campaign off on the right foot as Leonard dropped a game-high 30 points in the season-opening win over the Lakers on Tuesday night. He showcased why he’s arguably the best player in the league behind his stellar play on both ends of the floor.
L.A.’s chances of competing for an NBA title lay squarely on Leonard and George’s shoulders as the Clippers have assembled a deep roster. They are backed by also possessing arguably the best bench unit in the league. The pieces are in place for them to make a serious push towards bringing the first championship to the franchise this season.