Kyusung Gong/Associated Press
Though they couldn’t sign Kawhi Leonard during last year’s free-agency period, the Los Angeles Lakers went on to win an NBA championship in 2020. Leonard, heading into his second season with the Los Angeles Clippers after a championship season with the Toronto Raptors, said he’s content to be on the other side of town from the defending champions.
“I’m happy with my decision,” Leonard said in an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Wednesday night. “They did a great job last year.”
Leonard, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the San Antonio Spurs, told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in July 2019 he was “very close” to signing with the Lakers and the Raptors in free agency, but the Clippers’ acquisition of Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder convinced him to join, too.
“I was very close. Real close,” Leonard said. “But when [the Clippers] presented the opportunity of playing with Paul, it was easy, it was a yes. I said let’s get it going.”
While the Lakers adding Leonard would have completed a Big Three with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they managed without one last season—and Leonard might be up to something with the Clippers. After combining with George to lead the team last season, the Southern California native helped recruit former Raptors teammate Serge Ibaka to join them this year.
Ibaka signed a two-year, $19 million deal with the Clippers in November.