As the Los Angeles Lakers were preparing to make their pitch to LeBron James and Paul George in free agency, they were also linked to Kawhi Leonard and his saga with the San Antonio Spurs.
After appearing in just nine games this past season because of a quad injury, a divide grew between Leonard and the organization over his recovery process. That prompted Leonard to request a trade from the Spurs, with the Lakers and Clippers believed to be his preferred destinations.
San Antonio eventually relented, but sent Leonard to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for a package that was headlined by All-Star and fellow Southern California native DeMar DeRozan.
That came after the Lakers signed James, who explained his admiration for their young core was reason enough to not push the franchise to meet the Spurs’ reported demand in a Leonard trade.
With training camp opening across the league next month, several players are in full swing with their offseason workouts.
One such session included James, Leonard and Kevin Durant being among the NBA players who got together at UCLA, which former Cleveland Cavaliers development coach Phil Handy shared:
Players congregating at UCLA for workouts and pickup basketball games is a decades-old tradition. It nonetheless will fuel speculation of the Lakers’ future plans.
They reportedly have confidence in their ability to sign Leonard as a 2019 free agent, and he is believed to remain focused on joining either of the Los Angeles teams. Meanwhile, James may take another — or first — crack at persuading Durant to sign with the Lakers.
James reportedly reached out to the two-time NBA Finals MVP this summer to gauge his interest in joining forces. Though, the nature of their conversation, or if one was even had, was refuted.