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“Oh, I would’ve had Kawhi. When I come in and close a deal, it’s done” - Magic Johnson believes that he would’ve landed Kawhi Leonard with the Los Angeles Lakers

Unfortunately, the Lakers legend gave up on his team before he could make this a possibility.
Former Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and superstar forwards LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard

LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Magic Johnson

The summer of 2019 was an eventful one in the NBA for many reasons.

The Golden State Warriors were just dethroned by the Toronto Raptors as many assumed that the former’s golden dynasty was over. Then, there were two other teams in the West, specifically the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clipper, who were looking to take over the NBA with their respective free agency pitches with the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler available on the market.

The biggest fish in that free agency class was no other than Leonard, who, to nobody’s surprise, moved and made his decision in silence. Both Los Angeles teams were reportedly in the witch hunt to acquire The Klaw’s services, but the 2-time champion eventually chose the Clippers over the Lakers — marking one of the most surprising and unprecedented decisions in NBA history.

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Magic believes things could’ve been different

According to Magic Johnson, who stepped down as the Lakers’ president months before Leonard’s decision, things could’ve been different had he stayed. 

Johnson believes that he would’ve been able to recruit Kawhi successfully to play for the Lakers alongside LeBron James if he had been in charge because he knows how to close a deal. But unfortunately, the Lakers legend gave up on his team before he could make this a possibility.

“Oh, I would’ve had Kawhi. When I come in and close a deal, it’s done. Listen man, I do my homework. And my research so when I get you in that room, I already know what you want and I’ll just lay it out to you,” Johnson said in his latest appearance on the “All the Smoke” podcast.

Magic broke his promise to LeBron

The irony about Johnson’s tenure as the Lakers’ president was that he was indeed the reason why James is currently with the purple and gold. Johnson recruited James and promised The King that he would build a championship contender and recruit more superstars to join him on the Lakers — only to break that promise by quitting his job without informing both James and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.

“I told him these are the moves I’m going to make after signing you. At that time, I thought it was going to be Kawhi because he was the next free agent next year. Nobody knew that Anthony Davis was going to be available for a trade so I said [to LeBron], I’ll get you and I’ll get Kawhi and then we off,” Johnson added.

Johnson did his part by recruiting James to Los Angeles but unfortunately, that would end up being his biggest accomplishment as an executive. Nobody knows whether or not the 5-time champion would have successfully done the same for Kawhi but deep down in Johnson’s heart, he knows he would’ve sealed that deal. 

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