With the 2018-19 NBA season approaching, LeBron James worked out with Cedi Osman, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant, among others, at UCLA.
While Durant re-signed with the Golden State Warriors and Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors, both will likely become 2019 free agents and headline a talented group which also could feature Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving.
Since Paul George re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers decided to preserve their max-contract slot by signing players to one-year deals for this season.
Although Leonard reportedly is ‘primarily interested’ in signing with the Lakers, he also will be open-minded about re-signing with the Raptors, according to Jabari Young of San Antonio Express-News (H/T: Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk):
Based off of me talking to people within his circle, they’re going to go into this thing with an open mind and give this thing every last opportunity to work. And at the end of the day, if that’s the case, then it would be great if he stays. Obviously, I think part of his mind, yes, let’s keep real: I think he still feels like L.A. might be the destination. At the same time, he plans to go into this thing with an open mind, giving it every single shot in the world to make it work.
By not meeting the San Antonio Spurs’ asking price, the Lakers understood the risks of waiting to potentially sign Leonard in 2019 free agency. As teams were unwilling to trade prospects and draft picks for a potential one-year rental, the Raptors are taking a chance and will have an entire season to persuade him to re-sign.
For the Lakers, they are attempting to find a balance between winning now and later. If it all goes according to plan during this two-year window, the Lakers will have two All-Star players and a talented young core.