NBA Free Agency 2019: As Lakers wait for Kawhi Leonard, D'Angelo Russell among backups falling off board
This is the timing aspect of free agency, and it's no joke
After the Lakers navigated their way to $32 million in cap space, all the talk has been about whether they should spend that money on one max player or split it between multiple role players to fill out a deeper team. Clearly, the Lakers are going for the big fish, and with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant going to Brooklyn, Jimmy Butler reportedly on his way to Miami in a sign and trade with Philly, Kemba Walker headed to Boston, Klay Thompson signed to the max with the Warriors, and D'Angelo Russell via stunning sign-and-trade with Brooklyn, there is only one left: Kawhi Leonard.
Problem is, as the Lakers are waiting on the potential third piece to what would unquestionably be the heaviest-hitting Big 3 in NBA history, a whole bunch of players that would've presumably been backup plans as solid role players are falling off the board.
Jeremy Lamb and Malcolm Brogdon are going to the Pacers. Bojan Bogdanovic is going to Utah. Rodney Hood is going back to Portland. Patrick Beverley is going back to the Clippers. Brook Lopez is going back to Milwaukee. J.J. Redick is going to New Orleans. Derrick Rose is headed to Detroit. Nikola Mirotic is going back to Spain. Rudy Gay is staying with San Antonio. Terrence Ross is staying with Orlando. Darren Collison retired.
If Kawhi signs with the Lakers, nobody cares about any of these guys, and perhaps the signs are pointing to this happening as there are no longer any superstar teammates to join up with elsewhere. He either goes to the Clippers as the only star or stays in Toronto as the only star. If he wants multiple star sidekicks, the Lakers are the only team left.
But if this doesn't happen, the Lakers are going to care a lot about these guys they are missing out on. Suddenly they'll be going into next season with LeBron, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma and a bunch of leftovers.
It's not time to hit the panic button. Kawhi may be getting more and more likely. But when people talk about how much timing and the domino effect matters in free agency, this is a prime example. Kawhi is the Lakers' cake, but if they lose him, there might not be much left to eat.
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