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Kawhi Leonard, NBA Free Agency, Impact On Lakers Rebuild

The Lakers franchise is in disarray, but everything changes if Kawhi Leonard returns home to ball with King James.

Now that Magic Johnson has made his abrupt departure from the Los Angeles Lakers as President of Basketball Operations, the drunken moment is over for the basketball world. The Lakers have to sober up and find his replacement while attempting to lure a big name free agent here this summer to complement the aging LeBron James and bring a championship back to Tinseltown.

If Lakers owner Jeanie Buss didn’t already have her work cut out for her, losing her friend and team President days before the postseason begins makes everything more unsettling.

The Shadow League on Twitter

Here’s Magic Johnson announcing that he’s stepping down as Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations. 📽 @NBAonTNT https://t.co/Ew7DXaLhpl

The Lakers team as currently constructed can’t compete in the Western Conference and for the first time in eight seasons, LeBron James won’t be the face of the NBA Finals.

Magic was smart enough to get the heck out of there before his incredible legacy of goodwill begins to crumble behind a franchise that is struggling to regain its identity.

All L.A. can do now is chalk the first season up as a disaster, but it’s nothing that corralling an elite free agent or two can’t cure. Magic basically fell on the sword for everyone and shouldered an amount of blame that extends far beyond his questionable acumen as a team President. 

With Magic’s noble departure, the Lakers can now clear the slate and move forward towards this critical summer. Word on the street is that Kawhi Leonard is their primary target. Leonard is a California native who sources say wouldn’t mind returning home to play at Staples Center with LeBron. Recent reports say Leonard has already told his teammate, Serge Ibaka, that he wasn’t sure if he’d be back.

“We’ll see after the season is up. I don’t know.” said Leonard.

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When Kawhi initially expressed his desire to leave the Spurs, he listed the Lakers as a preferred destination. That didn’t work out and he got traded to the Raptors, with the possibility that he was just a one-year rental. He makes the most sense, especially as Klay Thompson won’t even give them a meeting. 

Warriors Wire on Twitter

Warriors Rumors: Klay Thompson will not give Lakers a meeting during free agency https://t.co/ktpLajymdC

If the Lakers could acquire Leonard, then the existing raw talent could really start to pay dividends and the Lakers would be right back in business. Kawhi and LeBron would be a fierce tandem. It’s been 20 years since the Lakers had two Top 5 players. We know what Kobe and Shaq were able to produce, so it’s not too late for LeBron to have one last run if the Lakers can corral Kawhi. 

Leonard’s game complements LeBron’s ball-control style well. Leonard’s prowess as the league’s best perimeter defender will be a welcome addition to an LA squad that played lackluster defense all season. 

And who’s to say that the Lakers still can’t trade for Anthony Davis? Is that totally dead? You never know.

Fortunes can change quickly in this NBA world of free agency. All isn’t lost for the Lakers.

One big free agent grab and all of a sudden the Lakers are contenders again and the fans are back on the bandwagon.

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