When Kawhi Leonard requested a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers prior to the 2018 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs remained patient in hopes of repairing the relationship and offering him a five-year, $219 million supermax contract extension.
However, as time went on, it became very clear teams were unwilling to trade significant assets for a one-year rental.
Since the Spurs had little-to-no leverage, they ultimately traded Leonard and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first round draft pick.
With reports of the Spurs wanting the team’s entire young core outside of Lonzo Ball, the Lakers were thinking long-term in their trade discussions, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
So far, the Lakers are playing the longer game in trade talks, confident in the belief that Leonard wants to play with them and plans to sign in free agency in July 2019.
With the Lakers deciding to wait on Leonard until free agency, there will naturally be comparisons made to Paul George, who ultimately re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, through all of the conflicting reports, Leonard wanting to play for the Lakers has remained the one constant.
As Leonard reportedly does not want to play in Toronto, it will be interesting to see what steps he takes next. If the Raptors come to the conclusion they cannot re-sign him, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year could be moved once again by the 2019 NBA trade deadline.
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