The NBA has turned into a league where one superstar is no longer enough to win a championship. Teams need multiple All-Star caliber players to be true contenders and with LeBron James officially in the fold, the question now for the Los Angeles Lakers is who will be the team’s next superstar.
The name most are expecting is disgruntled San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard. The Lakers have been in talks with the Spurs about a trade for the 26-year-old, but reportedly things haven’t gone well. Now we know the reason why.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Lakers’ offers have been underwhelming, with one executive describing them in an unflattering manner:
With LeBron officially agreeing to sign with the Lakers, it’ll be fascinating to monitor what type of leverage the Spurs can create for Kawhi Leonard, who still desires to play for the Lakers, according to multiple league sources—all of whom say offers to the Spurs have been underwhelming. One executive said the proposed packages have gotten worse with each round of negotiations, while another said they’re flat-out unacceptable.
The Lakers offering less as the talks have dragged on should come as no surprise. Initially there was a belief that the Lakers needed to get Leonard in to guarantee LeBron would join.
However James reportedly made it clear to president of basketball operations Magic Johnson when they met at the start of free agency that the Lakers didn’t need to make any major moves to appease him. The fact that James signed on for four years validated that sentiment.
With James locked in, and Leonard being a free agent next summer, the desperation for the Lakers is gone. They have all the leverage now, so offering a huge package for Leonard is no longer necessary.
Reportedly, the Lakers have said that Kyle Kuzma is off-limits in any Leonard deal, but the team still has plenty they could offer. Brandon Ingram is viewed by many the main prize, but the Lakers likely aren’t motivated to include much beyond him as far as prospects.
Of course, considering what happened with Paul George this summer, there is always that worry about things changing over the course of a year. But with the likes of Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler also available in 2019, the Lakers will have plenty of options should things not work out.
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