Armed with the most of salary cap space of any team and a young core that both doubled as incentive for free agents and tradable assets, expectations were sky-high for the Los Angeles Lakers when free agency began.
In the days leading up to the process beginning July 1, the Lakers were among the teams to reportedly initiate trade talks with the San Antonio Spurs for disgruntled forward Kawhi Leonard. That stemmed from Leonard asking to be traded a couple weeks back.
Whether dealing with the Lakers or another team, the Spurs have reportedly set a high asking price for the 26-year-old star. In terms of L.A., Brandon Ingram was reportedly the player the Spurs coveted most.
However, they also were thought to want a package that included other young talent in Josh Hart and/or Kyle Kuzma. While Leonard is among the league’s best talents, he’s entering the final year of his contract.
During an appearance on ESPNews after James’ agreeing to a deal with the Lakers was reported, Stephen A. Smith indicated the Lakers are not willing to include Kuzma in a trade for Leonard:
“San Antonio is asking for the house, (but) Kyle Kuzma is off limits. They’re not willing to surrender three picks. Their mentality is that Kawhi Leonard wants to be a Laker.”
In addition to James, the Lakers reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Although they could benefit from trading for Leonard, the roster at this stage could also just be filled in.
Beyond Leonard, the Lakers could move to re-sign Julius Randle or continue exploring a potential signing of DeMarcus Cousins, who’s expected to meet with the team.
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