Leonard has thrown the Lakers into confusion by wanting to play for the Clippers. For months now, Leonard has stated that he wanted to play for the Lakers and the Lakers alone. That is why the San Antonio Spurs have had a hard time moving him. He is unwilling to sign an extension with any other team besides the Lakers and will take off after the end of next season.
Teams will be hesitant to give away a lot for Leonard if he won’t stay. That makes the whole sacrifice for him pointless. That was the Lakers advantage; he wanted to play for them. It seems like Leonard is eager to play in Los Angeles, no matter what team it is.
Enter the Clippers. They are the beneficiary of being a team that plays in Los Angeles, the hometown of Leonard. If they can offer the Spurs a good trade package, they may be able to Leonard. He is eager to leave and the Spurs want to send him to any team not named the Lakers. They would prefer a team in the Eastern Conference but Leonard will not sign off on any team not based in Los Angeles.
San Antonio should be thankful that Leonard has set his mind on another team besides the Lakers. The situation at hand was looking back for the Spurs because they looked like they were going to have to settle for a lower expectation than they wanted but this games them leverage. Now, the Lakers and the Clippers will be competing to land the homegrown kid.
Everyone thought that Leonard was on his way to the Lakers because LeBron James signed with them. They got the biggest free agent and had room to sign another superstar. Unfortunately for the Lakers, San Antonio has made it difficult for the Spurs to acquire Leonard.
In the end, Leonard will most likely end up with the Clippers. The Spurs can’t keep him because he plans to sit out the whole season if they do. They have to trade him but they don’t want to trade him to the Lakers. That is the Clippers best asset at the moment; not being the Lakers.