Nick Schwartz | USA TODAY SPORTS
Lakers fans were anxiously awaiting the announcement that Kawhi Leonard had elected to join the Lakers and form a seemingly unbeatable Big 3 alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but much of Laker Nation woke up to bad news on Saturday.
Instead of signing with the Lakers, Leonard has opted to join the Los Angeles Clippers and partner with MVP finalist Paul George, who will be arriving in LA after the Clippers and Thunder agreed to a blockbuster trade.
Leonard’s decision sets up what might be one of the most exciting and wide-open NBA seasons in modern history – but the timing of the deal left the Lakers scrambling to sign free agents before the moratorium ends at noon on July 6th.
To make the most of their cap space, the Lakers need to sign all the free agents they can before the Anthony Davis trade becomes official, as the trade will effectively slash their cap room by around $5 million. With the Davis trade set to be finalized some time on Saturday, the Lakers committed nearly half of their remaining cap space to their No. 1 target outside of Leonard – former Raptor Danny Green.
“I’m excited for the next two years that I will be teaming up with my new teammates in L.A., the Los Angeles Lakers. Looking forward to playing with those guys. Should be great.”
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, JaVale McGee and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will also be returning for the Lakers this coming season. McGee averaged 12 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season.
UPDATE: The Lakers are also adding guard Quinn Cook.
UPDATE #2: DeMarcus Cousins is signing a one-year deal to reunite with Anthony Davis.
UPDATE #3: Rajon Rondo will be returning.