Kawhi Leonard has a big request for when he meets with the Lakers – he wants former Lakers president Magic Johnson to be involved in the pitch.
“A friend of mine called and says Kawhi wants to meet with you,” Johnson told ESPN on Friday. “I said no problem. I’m available if that’s what this man wants.”
The only problem is that the NBA has specifically told the Lakers that Johnson can’t be part of the team’s formal free-agency process, according to ESPN, which cited unidentified league sources.
The Lakers haven’t attempted to work with Johnson formally, and Johnson said he has tried to contact owner Jeanie Buss about meeting with Leonard. But he hasn’t heard back.
“Whatever she wants to do I’m fine with it,” Johnson said. “Everyone at this point just wants the Lakers to be good, and it’s from her leadership. … I don’t know if last year or two years ago she would have made these moves. But now she is really incredibly involved, she’s aggressive and making the moves she needs to make. She’s stepped up big time. I’m so proud of her.”
As expected, Leonard opted out of the final year of his contract with the Raptors. He reportedly is set to meet with teams around the NBA and has been linked to the Nets, Clippers and Knicks in addition to the Lakers. He will have a final meeting with the Raptors, and many believe he will stay in Toronto after winning an NBA championship.
The Lakers are looking to add another star after they acquired Anthony Davis from the Pelicans earlier this month for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks.
Los Angeles has also been connected to trying to land Kyrie Irving and D’Angelo Russell to join star LeBron James.
“Everyone forgets. (Leonard) played with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili,” Johnson added. “He’s played with multiple superstars. He’s been one of the guys on a team like that.”
Free agency officially begins Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.