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Green: Kawhi wanted ‘his own route,’ not Lakers

As Danny Green — perhaps Kawhi Leonard’s closest teammate, having paired with him to win championships in both San Antonio and Toronto — waited on Leonard’s free-agent decision last week, he was left in the dark just like the rest of the world.

Except he was pretty sure of one thing: Leonard would not be joining the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I think all of it was a shock to me,” Green said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “Except not as much of a shock Kawhi going to L.A. The Clippers, anyway. I didn’t see him coming this route [to the Lakers].

“I feel like he wanted to go his own route. I think it was between them and going back (to Toronto). I think the year that he had and what those fans brought this season and everything, it was hard for him to turn it down and leave Toronto. But I knew he wanted to be closer to home.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china6

Leonard, a native of Riverside, California, orchestrated the Paul George trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Clippers behind the scenes, spurning the Lakers — who had $32 million in cap space on hold for him — and the Raptors, who wanted to retain the 2019 Finals MVP and defend their championship. And Green then became the Lakers’ top target.

Shortly after Leonard informed the Lakers they were out of consideration, they pivoted to offer Green a two-year, $30 million contract, and followed that deal by reaching agreements with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso, Quinn Cook, DeMarcus Cousins and eventually Avery Bradley to fill out the roster.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Green, a 10-year veteran with a career 40.4% mark on 3-pointers, said deciding on the Lakers was simple.

“It wasn’t very hard, man,” he said. “LeBron [James] and Anthony Davis are here. Obviously when you’re with a winning team and you’ve won, you want to run it back if it’s possible. But that wasn’t going to happen. And even if it did happen, I don’t think they had room for me there [in Toronto]. So you go to the next-best team you think in the league is and that was here.”

Not that the wait until he got to make that decision wasn’t excruciating. Free agents could begin negotiations with prospective teams on June 30. Leonard didn’t make his choice until July 5. And Green — knowing there could be a pretty payday waiting for him in L.A. if Leonard didn’t form a superteam alongside James and Davis — had no choice but to stand in line until Leonard punched his free-agency ticket first.