Warriors

Why Warriors, fans would love LeBron-Kawhi combination with Lakers

Why Warriors, fans would love LeBron-Kawhi combination with Lakers

OAKLAND -- There may be nothing the Warriors or their fans would like more than a legitimate powerhouse rivalry with a team in California.

Please, then, let the LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard end up with the Lakers.

Or, failing that, the Clippers.

In the wake of the Warriors sweeping the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, James is expected to opt out of his deal in Cleveland and become an unrestricted free agent. The Lakers are considered a logical destination, but the Clippers, behind special consultant, Jerry West also would be interested.

If James were to come to either LA team, it’s anticipated that he would bring another All-Star with him. Leonard fits the profile. And he wants out of San Antonio, according to multiple reports Friday.

Given the mystery and drama surrounding the All-Star forward’s prolonged absence from the team, that’s not entirely unexpected. That Leonard reportedly would want to play in LA also is not surprising insofar as he is a Southern California native.

What’s more important is that both the Lakers and Clippers have the flexibility to make an appealing trade offer to the Spurs.

The Lakers have several intriguing young players, including Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle. The Clippers are not as deep in young talent, but they have the 12th and 13th picks in the draft next Thursday.

Leonard has one guaranteed year, at $20.1 million, remaining on his contract. He has a player option at $21.3 million in 2019-20. He played only nine games this season while rehabilitating from a quad injury.

The Lakers will have more than $60 million cap space to spend on salary, with James speculated to absorb a considerable portion of that.

Though the Warriors faced both the Lakers and the Clippers in the postseason, it has been 45 years since the Warriors battled either past the second round. The Warriors and Lakers met in the 1973 Western Conference Finals.

If James comes west and Leonard gets his wish, it would further tilt the balance of power toward the Western Conference. To be more specific, right in the backyard of the Warriors.

The last time there was a NorCal-SoCal matchup deep in the playoffs was 2002, when the Lakers and Kings concluded their three-year blood feud in the Western Conference Finals.

The Warriors were nowhere near the playoffs during those years. They are now regulars in the postseason and three-time NBA champs.

They’ve had their beefs with the Clippers and maybe they can revive that.

But a true Warriors fan surely would prefer to break hearts all over LA by personally kicking the Lakers out of the postseason for the first time since 1967.

Break the NBA: Let's add Kawhi Leonard to the Warriors

Break the NBA: Let's add Kawhi Leonard to the Warriors

And here they go again, the Los Angeles Lakers making a super team.
 
The hyenas.
 
Sorry about that, actually. Just wanted to try it out before the professional yammerers get their hooks into it, seeing as how the “super team” concept is both so much in favor and discredited at the same time.
 
And you thought you were already sick of the topic.
 
If Leonard wants to be a Laker, as multiple reports suggest, then LeBron James would presumably begin the long slow crawl across the continent to join what would be the super team to combat the super team, and suddenly we could debate the notion of the good “super team” against the bad “super team,” and be one step closer to the hell we all deserve.
 
Although I might humbly suggest an alternative to combat the concept of the self-igniting tongue, namely this:
 
Kawhi to Golden State.
 
And not because Golden State needs more than it already has, but because it would truly do what people accuse Kevin Durant of doing – breaking the NBA. And frankly, we need more culprits because that little story line is about chased out.
 
Leonard the Warrior would be, other than creating the New Pachulia irony, the most desirable end to this particular noxious form of NBA coverage.
 
The half-assed super-team rumor mill.
 
Now we can all agree before this goes any further that Leonard wants to be a Laker, the San Antonio Spurs won’t take less than $1.30 on the dollar for him in either cash or prizes, and what he wants isn’t necessarily the same as what he gets. So this might all end up being nothing in the end, or an entirely different something (say, Leonard goes to Denver, or New York, or sits out the season just because he’s funny that way).
 
But since we’re still at the overheated speculation phase of the Leonard story, why don’t we go full bore and try to break the machine entirely? Let’s put him on the Warriors and talk endlessly about whether he is more Satan-level villainous than Durant.
 
Not because the Warriors don’t already have more than everyone else, and not because I particularly care whether they get better, or worse, or stay as they are? I’m only committed to the notion that this could make all future NBA coverage melt into a giant ingot of slag, and leave us the time needed to think of better stories than this one.
 
The additional benefit of Leonard becoming a Warrior would be that all other player move speculations, including James, would be prefaced with the catch-all phrase, “Not that it makes a damned bit of difference any more . . .” It would give rise to a new topic de tedium, namely the high-level spite signing – as in Leonard leaves Gregg Popovich to play for one of his most devoted acolytes in Steve Kerr. It would allow us to speculate whether Joe Lacob could make his annual luxury tax bill exceed the team’s Forbes valuation. It would give us permission to suggest the Warriors’ new bar of success is to go 98-0, and anything less is a sign that they really are terminally bored.
 
And it would allow someone to write the definitive “None of this happens without Zaza Pachulia’s oafish left foot” piece in The Undefeated.
 
I’m good with all of it. Let’s really see what needs to be done to actually break the NBA, because it isn’t Durant, and it won’t be James.
 
So yes, if you think Kawhi Leonard the Laker is fascinating, absolutely, go for it. But I suggest that Kawhi Leonard the Warrior is way weirder, and in keeping with the general tenor of the times, let’s go full Bizarro World and give the Warriors everybody except LeBron. Ayn Rand would definitely approve.

Reports: Kawhi Leonard wants to be traded from Spurs

leonardkawhispurspopovich.jpg
AP

Reports: Kawhi Leonard wants to be traded from Spurs

Things may get wild very soon.

Kawhi Leonard wants the Spurs to trade him, according to multiple reports.

Leonard is scheduled to make $20.1 million in 2018-19 and has a $21.3 million player option for the 2019-20 season.

It's possible that Kawhi's camp is trying to ramp up the pressure on the Spurs to offer him the "super max" this summer.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski:

Stay tuned...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller