During his tenure working for the Lakers, Johnson’s biggest acquisition was, of course, LeBron James, who came to LA in 2018, one year after Johnson joined.
James had many reasons to move from Cleveland to Los Angeles but his decision was probably heavily influenced by Johnson’s plans.
Magic told LeBron he'd try to land Kawhi during his pitch to the Lakers.
Kawhi pairing up with Bron … Imagine 🤯
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 6, 2023
Speaking to Matt Barnes for Showtime Sports, Johnson said that he told James he was going to build a Finals-ready team around him.
Johnson is very confident that had he gotten a chance to sit with Leonard, he would have convinced him to pack his bags and head west.
“I would’ve had Kawhi,” Johnson said.
He added, “Look, when I come in to close a deal, it’s done.”
In the end, Johnson didn’t get his chance.
Leonard obviously decided to stick around in Toronto for a bit longer, win a ring with that team, and then sign with the rival Clippers in free agency.
As for the Lakers, they eventually got Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans and won the promised championship.
Some wonder what the team could have been like had Leonard come over instead of Davis.
They are vastly different players but they do have one unfortunate thing in common: they are injury-prone.
In fact, Leonard has played fewer games in Los Angeles than Davis has, which means that no matter if the Lakers got Davis or Leonard, they would have experienced frustration and heartache.