By Hook or By Crook, Kawhi Leonard Gave the Lakers Exactly What They Deserved in Spurning Them for the Clippers
I don’t think Kawhi Leonard’s intention was to do anything other than put himself in the best possible position to win both now and later as the number one option for a team located in his beloved Southern California. He clearly accomplished just that in proving that robots are, indeed, en route to outsmarting and exterminating all of us by quietly forcing the hand of two separate franchises, while leaving two others lying in the lurch, to make an 11th hour trade that involved a record-setting return. At the end of the day, it's possible that the biggest reason the Lakers thought they had a real chance was because they convinced themselves they had a real chance, as the insertion of an exceedingly silent, ball-dominant assassin next to Anthony Davis in the LeBron James' media circus never made any sense whatsoever.
That, however, doesn't make the collateral damage caused by his decision, with that being the complete compromising of the Lakers' superiority complex, any less sweet. I have a hard time believing that Kawhi Leonard had sticking it to Bron on the brain when he was playing hard-to-get with Jeanie Buss while going door-to-door around the NBA in trying to recruit a second star player to the Clippers...
However, if one were to plot out a maniacally meticulous plan of attack on the insufferable entitlement of an organization that couldn't be bothered to show a baseline level of competence in expecting a third transcendent talent to just fall in their lap? Well, I'm not sure they could craft a better backstabbing than the one that Kawhi Leonard just pulled off in leading on the Lakers for nothing more than leverage in making the Clippers more competitive.
Uniting two stars who, in consecutive years, more or less told LeBron & Co. to piss in the wind despite both having an obvious affinity for Los Angeles, and doing so in a form and fashion that brought the most formidable of foe in-house? With the way his free agency played out, eventually leaving Rob Pelinka to pick from the scrap heap of what was left over of the mid-tier free agents he missed out on by chasing the dragon that is star-power (which he did a decent job of, in all fairness), you'd think Kawhi Leonard was seeking vengeance after being Don King'd by Klutch Sports. I'm not sure his plan was as devious as it was determined, but reminding the Lakers of their most recent free agency failures by going above and beyond to have them call home the same building in a less prestigious uniform is how you pour gasoline on a dumpster fire in showing a legendary organization the error of its current leadership.
Kawhi Leonard sent the Lakers their reality check by choosing to both join and actively reinforce the deeper, more complete roster in Los Angeles while putting his trust in the city's most accomplished coach and executive. Whether they deposit said "check" or refuse to withdraw their head from their ass in continuing to live in LaLa Land remains to be seen. Regardless, they are currently the second-most flexible franchise in their own arena due to dumbass decision-making that couldn't possibly have done less to earn the services of the most deadly three-headed monster in NBA history.
It never made any sense for Kawhi to subject himself to a high-profile power struggle for possessions. The Lakers being unable to see that while going against the wishes of the introverted player they had targeted in aimlessly leaking baseless bullshit like they lost control of their organizational bladder tells you pretty much everything you need to know. They are a franchise that's been made spoiled by LeBron and his team choosing to make them relevant in prioritizing local interests outside basketball. They are a franchise that can't seem to wrap their head around AD only finding his way into purple and gold because they got desperate in giving up the entirety of their future for a 7-foot pawn on Rich Paul's chess board. Lastly, they are a franchise that was dead ass wrong in thinking they had some sort of right to a player who needs not to be part of such a shameless sideshow to win championships in Los Angeles. Long story short, the Lakers got what they deserved in the Kawhi sweepstakes...which was absolutely fucking nothing.