Representatives for Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard are reportedly set to meet with Los Angeles Lakers CEO Jeanie Buss next week after free agency opens Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.
Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported the update Friday, noting the meeting is likely to take place in L.A. Sam Amick of The Athletic noted Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis are also expected to get involved when the team makes its formal pitch.
While Turner said former team president Magic Johnson would also be present, Johnson told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN he couldn't be directly involved in the process, despite Leonard requesting his presence:
Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne
Magic Johnson says he will help the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency in any way he can, but he is not permitted by NBA rules to be part of official team meetings with prospective free agents. Johnson said he has not been asked by the Lakers or owner Jeanie Buss to participate.
Although the offseason began with the Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers viewed as the top contenders, the Lakers are suddenly emerging as a serious threat to land the reigning NBA Finals MVP after clearing enough cap space for another max player.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported further details earlier Friday on Get Up:
Another key aspect of the storyline is the lingering presence of Johnson in the Lakers' decision-making process despite abruptly stepping down as president in April.
The Hall of Famer explained he didn't like the restrictions associated with being part of the team's front office.
"I'm a free bird and I've been handcuffed," Johnson told reporters. "And I don't like that. ... This is the right time. The right move. The right decision. I'm so happy. I'm a guy who always knows when things are right, and this is right. It feels good."
Yet he told Bill Oram of The Athletic earlier this week he's maintained contact with members of the organization, highlighted by giving his thoughts on the potential Davis trade, and will now reportedly attempt to help the Lakers sell Leonard on the storied franchise.
Regardless, the Lakers are clearly prepared to bring all of their biggest influencers to their meeting with Leonard's camp in an effort to complete a massive offseason roster reconstruction.
A lineup featuring James, Davis, Leonard and Kyle Kuzma would likely make Los Angeles the championship favorite and put them in position to sign veteran role players seeking a title at extremely reduced costs to help fill out the roster.