With the 2018 NBA Draft on June 21 and free agency beginning on July 1, the Los Angeles Lakers are preparing for perhaps the most important offseason in franchise history.
After finally establishing a young core by rebuilding through the draft the last five years, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have created cap space for two max-contract players with a two-year window in mind.
Although all the attention has been on LeBron James and Paul George, Kawhi Leonard has been linked to the Lakers via trade or 2019 free agency as there are questions regarding his future with the San Antonio Spurs. After playing in just nine games due to a right quadriceps injury, there appears to be a disconnect without any clarity.
According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, Leonard does not want to return to the Spurs for the 2018-19 NBA season:
Kawhi Leonard wants out from the San Antonio Spurs, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 15, 2018
In addition, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports the 26-year-old is eyeing Los Angeles, preferably the Lakers as his trade destination:
San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard has Los Angeles — preferably the Lakers — at the center of his preferences for a trade destination, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 15, 2018
With the offseason officially underway, there was hope the Spurs could repair their relationship with Leonard and offer him a five-year, $219 million contract extension. Unfortunately, the Spurs are in unfamiliar territory as they will have to explore their options.
Although the Lakers are the 26-year-old’s preferred destination, they will face stiff competition in the trade market. The Boston Celtics and Philadephia 76ers have also been linked with Leonard and can also put together intriguing trade packages for San Antonio.
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