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Lakers reportedly feel ‘played’ by Kawhi Leonard

There was no shortage of speculation in the aftermath Kawhi Leonard’s somewhat prolonged free-agency deliberations that the superstar took advantage of the Los Angeles Lakers’ intense interest in securing his services.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Lakers remain slightly bitter over how the Leonard sweepstakes played out. What’s more, the NBA insider adds the Toronto Raptors are not at all pleased with how Leonard went about his free-agency decision.

“I’ve heard complaints in the days after the signing. I heard complaints from the Lakers that they got played,” Windhorst said during an appearance this week on ESPN’s Hoop Collective Podcast. “I heard complaints from the Raptors that Kawhi came in and asked for the sun, the moon, the stars then left them at the altar.”

There was some chatter ahead of Leonard’s decision to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers that the Raptors felt that the superstar — along with his advisor and uncle, Dennis Robertson — were attempting to exert excessive leverage on the organization during talks. Further, this is not the first time the suggestion has been made that the Lakers felt used and perhaps even misled by Leonard.

However, it arguably would be a stretch to think Leonard would be so cold, calculating and even vindictive, as there’s no evidence indicating the Lakers did anything that would deservedly elicit such a response.

The Lakers, along with the Clippers and the Raptors, were viewed as front-runners to land Leonard, with the Lakers generally perceived as the favorites. That said, the notion that the Lakers do indeed harbor bitterness over Leonard will make their L.A. rivalry with the Clippers all the more compelling heading into the 2019-20 NBA season, one that is already dividing the city in strange ways.