Danny Green 'Didn't See' Kawhi Leonard Signing with Lakers over Clippers

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJuly 11, 2019

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 13: Danny Green #13 Serge Ibaka #9 and Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors high five against the Golden State Warriors during Game Six of the 2019 NBA Finals on June 13, 2019 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers were considered one of three finalists to land Toronto Raptors free-agent forward Kawhi Leonard this offseason before the two-time NBA Finals MVP eventually joined the Los Angeles Clippers.

That apparently didn't come as much of a surprise to Lakers guard Danny Green, who "didn't see" his teammate of eight years wearing purple and gold.  

"I think all of it was a shock to me," Green told ESPN's Dave McMenamin and other reporters on a conference call. "Except not as much of a shock Kawhi going to L.A. The Clippers, anyway. I didn't see him coming this route [to the Lakers].

"I feel like he wanted to go his own route. I think it was between them and going back. I think the year that he had and what those fans brought this season and everything it was hard for him to turn it down and leave Toronto. But I knew he wanted to be closer to home."

Green and Leonard played together on the San Antonio Spurs from 2011-18 and on the title-winning Raptors last season. They'll now be in the same city again, albeit in different uniforms.

Leonard is originally from Riverside, California and played collegiately at San Diego State. He signed a three-year, $103 million contract with the Clippers to return to Southern California. Green agreed to join the Lakers on a two-year, $30 million deal. 

The Lakers would have been an odd fit for Leonard, who just finished leading the Raptors to an NBA championship.

Four-time MVP LeBron James runs the show for that L.A squad., and six-time All-Star big man Anthony Davis now joins him via a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. A move to the Lakers would have made Leonard a second or third option after he was the face of a championship-winning franchise.

There wasn't much reason for Leonard to take that demotion. In turn, his Clippers move makes the NBA far more competitive and exciting next season.

If Leonard had joined the Lakers, they'd be the undisputed title favorites. Now that he's signed with the Clippers, the Western Conference is up for grabs between the two L.A. teams, the Houston Rockets, the reloaded Utah Jazz, the Western Conference finalist Portland Trail Blazers and more.

The Clips are 3-1 favorites to win the NBA title. The Milwaukee Bucks sit second at 9-2, and the Lakers are third with 5-1 odds.

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