While Kawhi Leonard's future remains a mystery past this season, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant is not expecting the Toronto Raptors star to team up with LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Durant, who like Leonard will be a free agent in 2019, told Bleacher Report he doesn't believe players who can control the pace of play want to team up with James.
"It depends on what kind of player you are," Durant said. "If you're Kyle Korver, then it makes sense. Because Kyle Korver in Atlanta was the bulk of the offence, and he's not a No. 1 option at all, not even close. So his talents benefit more from a guy who can pass and penetrate and get him open.
"If you're a younger player like a Kawhi, trying to pair him with LeBron James doesn't really make sense. Kawhi enjoys having the ball in his hands, controlling the offence, dictating the tempo with his post-ups; it’s how he plays the game. A lot of young players are developing that skill. They don't need another guy."
Phoenix Suns veteran Trevor Ariza agreed with Durant's assessment and pointed to Paul George re-signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder this past off-season as proof.
"If I was a free agent, I would have to consider everything," Ariza said. "But my role is different than PG and Kawhi. They ask them to do different things than they ask of me. Guys similar to [LeBron], why would they want to play with somebody who does all the same things? I can see why they would want to play elsewhere."
Leonard said he doesn't view James as a measuring stick for his career, pointing to the San Antonio Spurs championship in 2014.
"What else do I have to prove?" Leonard asked. "He beat me in the Finals; we came back and beat him."
When asked if he has nothing to prove, Leonard added, "Just when we do play him, try to win the game. That's it."
Durant added that he believes past stars who have teamed up with LeBron, with either the Miami Heat or Cleveland Cavaliers, have been forced to change their playing style to adjust.
"Kevin Love, he had to totally change his game to fit, to be a shooter," Durant said. "Which, I think, he deserves way more credit for switching his game. [Chris] Bosh, same way. LeBron is a player that needs to play with guys that already know how they play the game – and shooters. Like, young players that are still developing, it's always going to be hard because he demands the ball so much, he demands control of the offence and he creates for everybody."
Finally, the two-time NBA Champion said the media circus that follows James around would be enough to deter him from teaming up with the four-time MVP.
"So much hype comes from being around LeBron from other people," Durant said. "He has so many fanboys in the media. Even the beat writers just fawn over him. I'm like, we're playing basketball here, and it's not even about basketball at certain points. So I get why anyone wouldn't want to be in that environment because it's toxic.
"Especially when the attention is bull [expletive] attention, fluff. It's not LeBron's fault at all; it's just the fact you have so many groupies in the media that love to hang on every word. Just get out of the way and let us play basketball."
Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said there’s a pros and cons to playing with the Lakers star, noting the focus will always be on James.
"It's the LeBron Effect," Lowry said. "He puts a lot of pressure on you, but he takes a lot of pressure off of you, too. You know what you're getting. He's earned that, but he's human.
“If you're a strong enough personality, you can handle it."