Why ‘Kawhi is a Laker’ rumor was trending on Twitter as Leonard decides
While nearly every major name in free agency had been spoken for as of Sunday and a few more reached deals on Monday, there was little news surrounding Kawhi Leonard. Leonard, the biggest free agent on the market, has been content to quietly and methodically go through his process, which was believed to include meetings with the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers and Toronto Raptors.
No leaks regarding Leonard’s dealings with the Raptors or Clippers have emerged. The only stories that have come out have been associated with the Lakers. There was buzz on Friday about how the Lakers felt confident about signing Leonard. Details of Magic Johnson’s conversation with Kawhi were leaked on Sunday night.
And then on Monday afternoon, the rumor mill really started to hum, leading to the phrase “Kawhi is a Laker” trending on Twitter.
Let’s be clear: nothing has been announced. Leonard has not said where he is going. None of the big-time, credible reporters have reported news. There is no official news. But here is the story behind why the rumor mill kicked into high gear about Kawhi going to the Lakers.
A user on the NBA Reddit community known as “RDAmbition” has developed a reputation for having inside information. That user reported details of the Lakers’ deal with the Pelicans happening before it did. The same person also supposedly mentioned the Philadelphia 76ers for Al Horford when it was still a mystery. That person recently started a Twitter account to share the same news they have been reporting on Reddit, which has been details of what Kawhi supposedly is seeking with the Lakers — details such as an emphasis on continuing his load management program.
That user tweeted the following Monday afternoon:
In a brief conference call with Lawrence Frank and Jerry West,Mitch Frankel informed the team that Leonard has formally ruled out the Clippers as a possible destination, narrowing his options to the Lakers and Raptors.
— RDAmbition (@RDAmbition_) July 1, 2019
— RDAmbition (@RDAmbition_) July 1, 2019
Those tweets led to Lakers fans flipping out.
Then former NBA player Kendrick Perkins tweeted the following, saying it was “looking very strong” for Leonard and the Lakers.
Just heard that Kawhi is meeting with the Clippers tonight but the Lakers hold the upper hand, unless Doc work his Magic tonight it’s looking very strong that Kawhi will be in Purple and Gold!!!
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) July 2, 2019
LA Times sports columnist Arash Markazi reported that a big bet came in on the Lakers at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook to win the championship, noting that the last time that had happened, the Anthony Davis trade news was reported shortly thereafter.
A $10,000 bet just came in on the Lakers at 7/4 to win the NBA Championship at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook. The last time that happened Anthony Davis’ trade to the Lakers was reported 30 minutes later.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 2, 2019
Adding to all that buzz was former NBA player Ricky Davis saying on Sunday that Kawhi was heading to the Lakers.
ICYMI: Kawhi Leonard going to the Lakers? Old news. Ricky Davis gave us the inside scoop during yesterday’s BIG3 games. pic.twitter.com/TiPWTFfVZo
— BIG3 on CBS (@thebig3) July 1, 2019
On Sunday night, Chris Broussard said the rumblings about the matter were getting stronger and stronger.
Kawhi to Lakers rumblings getting stronger & stronger. Iguodala likely to join Lakers after Memphis buyout. Danny Green & Seth Curry in Lakers’ scope. Lakers offered Rondo vet minimum & 24 hours to decide. Lakers on verge of building powerhouse.
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 1, 2019
Ex-NBA player Caron Butler shared a photo of Kawhi in Lakers gear next to LeBron and Anthony Davis.
— Caron Butler (@realtuffjuice) July 1, 2019
Adding all this up led Lakers fans to believe Kawhi was going to join the team.
When Leonard first sought a trade away from the San Antonio Spurs last summer, the word then was that he wanted to go to the Lakers and any team acquiring him would only get him for one season. The Raptors took the risk anyway and won the ultimate prize, capturing the championship with Leonard leading the way and taking home Finals MVP honors. The way the season went led to a report that he was seriously considering a return to Toronto. Meanwhile, the Clippers were known to have been pursuing him all season, but very little buzz has been associated with them since.
In the meantime, all of Los Angeles, Toronto, and basketball fans around the world await the announcement of Leonard’s decision.