After a drama-filled start to the offseason, there were questions about how it would impact the Los Angeles Lakers heading into the 2019 NBA Draft and free agency.
Fortunately for the Lakers, they moved up seven spots and landed the No. 4 pick at the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery. With an unexpected top-four draft pick, they eventually included it in the Anthony Davis trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Although there are currently conflicting reports about when the Davis trade will happen, the Lakers could still have a max-contract slot available to pursue a free agent.
As a result, the Lakers will pursue Kawhi Leonard following the Davis trade, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:
If it were to go through before July 6, the Lakers wouldn’t be able to create the $32.7 million necessary to sign Walker or another max free agent, such as Kawhi Leonard, who league sources say the Lakers will pursue.
Despite Leonard winning the 2019 NBA Finals, the Toronto Raptors reportedly ‘still have work to do’ in order to re-sign him, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
“He came to Toronto, with the idea from San Antonio, this was a very fine one year way station and I’m sure exceeded his expectations how they managed him physically to be a Finals MVP again, to win a championship. But there was always the risk of him going back west. The L.A. Clippers are at the very top of that list, and I think the Raptors still have work to do between now and June 30 and the start of free agency to keep Kawhi Leonard in Toronto.”
When Leonard initially made his trade request from the San Antonio Spurs, he wanted to play for the Lakers. While that narrative has changed to the Los Angeles Clippers, the one constant has been his desire to play closer to home.
As for the Lakers, the hope is they did not look past the timing of the Davis trade. If it is executed on July 6, the Lakers will only have $23.7 million in free agency. However, if they can wait until July 30, they will have $32.5 million.