Stephen A.: 'Don't Rule Out' Kawhi Leonard to Lakers; Magic Johnson Recruiting

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2019

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, in Denver. The Nuggets won 95-86. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Magic Johnson may no longer be the president of the Los Angeles Lakers, but he is reportedly doing what he can to get Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard in purple and gold.

"Kawhi Leonard to the Lakers, I'm being told don't rule that out," Smith said on his ESPN Radio show. "Matter of fact, I have it on pretty good authority that's something Earvin 'Magic' Johnson himself is working on because he knows the uncle of Kawhi Leonard."

Johnson joined Smith on ESPN's First Take on Monday. During that appearance, Johnson said he would have targeted Leonard and Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer had he remained president of the Lakers:

When Leonard's trade request from the San Antonio Spurs went public last summer, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Southern California native had interest in returning home to L.A., either with the Lakers or the Clippers.

Shams Charania, then of Yahoo Sports, said on The Herd with Colin Cowherd (h/t NBCSports.com's Dan Feldman) last July that LeBron James signing with the Lakers made the Clippers a more attractive destination to Leonard.

That same week, ESPN.com's Michael C. Wright said on the Back to Back podcast that Leonard preferred the Clippers over the Lakers "because he doesn't want to go and be second fiddle to LeBron."

Leonard has declined to discuss his impending free agency throughout this season, telling Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com in January that he was "focused on right now." His focus remains on basketball, as the Raptors are tied at two games apiece with the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Leonard holds a $21.3 million player option for next season, and declining it would allow him to explore his market in free agency. The result of this postseason figures to factor into his long-term plans.

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