As Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs continue their seemingly hopeless first round NBA playoffs series against the Golden State Warriors, the absence of Kawhi Leonard continues to become more and more glaring.
Leonard is in New York, recovering from injury with his handpicked team of doctors. But his choice to not join the Spurs team in Oakland for the playoffs has fueled further speculation he could be moved this summer.
While the Spurs trading a former MVP candidate might seem unlikely, Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee is reporting that Popovich and the organization are considering doing just that:
No one can speak for Popovich, but some of his closest confidants suspect that if the relationship remains strained and the lack of communication persists, he will pursue a blockbuster trade during the offseason and commit to a parting of the ways. Already, according to multiple reports, several teams are assembling packages that might appeal to the Spurs.
If San Antonio wants to start evaluating trade packages for Leonard this summer, the Los Angeles Lakers would seem able to offer one of the most appealing potential hauls.
That is, if they’re willing to include a young player like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma along with whatever other assets it would take to pry Leonard from San Antonio.
Such a price might seem steep for damaged goods a team is trying to move on from, but if the Lakers’ front office can get a clean bill of health on Leonard, they’d be acquiring one of the top players in the league and a sure-fire free-agent draw who’s ready to contribute to a winner now.
The ability to get into the hunt for a player like Leonard is exactly why Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka spoke about the importance of hoarding cap space and maintaining financial flexibility this summer. And while the opportunity to potentially trade for Leonard is still a ways off, having a chance to be in the hunt is a huge improvement on the Lakers’ superstar-related fortunes over the last few summers.