NBA Trade Rumors: Lakers Haven’t Been ‘Really Aggressive’ Of Late For Kawhi Leonard Trade
Kawhi Leonard
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Free agency began in a bit of disappointing fashion for the Los Angeles Lakers, as minutes before the clock struck midnight, it was reported Paul George agreed to re-sign with the Oklahoma City.

George had long been considered a heavy lean to sign with the Lakers, and along with LeBron James, was labeled one of the key pillars to accelerating — or ending — the franchise’s rebuild. A wild card that emerged over recent weeks was Kawhi Leonard.

In addition to asking the San Antonio Spurs for a trade, the two-time All-Star reportedly made it clear his preference was to be sent to the Lakers. That led to speculation L.A. would move to form their own big three with, though it came with hurdles.

While it was believed the Lakers and other teams interested in Leonard wished to complete a trade before the start of free agency on July 1, that never manifested.

And with that, Adrian Wojnarowski explained during an appearance on ESPN’s “NBA: The Jump” that the Lakers haven’t aggressively pursued a trade for Leonard in recent days:

“The Lakers have not been really aggressive in the last few days with San Antonio. This isn’t a negotiation among teams — Boston, Philly — where everyone is upping the ante. It’s been slow-building. Maybe the Lakers want to see how this plays out with LeBron; they’ve already lost Paul George.”

Just like George last season when he looked to force his way out of Indian, Leonard is entering the final year of his contract. He’s eligible to receive a super max extension from the Spurs, which is earning power that would be voided in the event of a trade.

The Lakers played the long game with George and it ultimately came back to work against them. A natural response might be to overcompensate now for Leonard, but president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have maintained they will be disciplined.

It’s plausible, if not likely, that the Lakers might first wait on a free-agent decision from James before looking to move forward in a trade for Leonard. Another factor is Julius Randle, who was presented with a qualifying offer is a restricted free agent.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are said to have plenty of attention on pulling off a stunning trade for Leonard.

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