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#pounditMonday, January 30, 2023

Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler don’t want to team with LeBron on Lakers?

The Los Angeles Lakers have long been considered the favorite to land Kawhi Leonard when he opts out of his contract after the season, but those things seem to have a way of not working out as anticipated in the NBA. The more we hear, the more it sounds like that could be the case with Leonard.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wrote this week that there are “whispers” around the NBA that neither Leonard nor Jimmy Butler — who is also set to become a free agent next summer — want to join LeBron James with the Lakers. Like we saw with Kyrie Irving in Cleveland, it’s possible that Leonard and Butler are two more star players who do not want to be overshadowed by LeBron.

The 2019 free agent class is a loaded one, and the assumption has been that the Lakers will sign at least one other star player. They already missed out on Paul George, however, and there have been mixed reports about whether Butler and Leonard have interest in the purple and gold.

In fact, one recent report indicated the Los Angeles Clippers are operating as though they can sign both Leonard and Butler next summer. The Lakers are a playoff team as long as they have LeBron, but they need another star player to contend with teams like the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. If they can’t convince Butler or Leonard to join them, they will have to get more creative.

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