With the Golden State Warriors sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 NBA Finals, much of the attention has shifted back to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The majority of the discussion has been about LeBron James and Paul George in free agency, but Kawhi Leonard and his somewhat uncertain future with the San Antonio Spurs is also a developing storyline.
As Leonard dealt with a right quadriceps injury and only appeared in nine games during the 2017-18 season, there are questions if he wants to remain in San Antonio. With both sides expected to meet at some point during the offseason, the Spurs are facing a decision on whether or not to offer their two-time All-Star a five-year, $219 million contract extension.
If the Spurs come to the conclusion they cannot mend fences with Leonard, they will be forced to explore trade options. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers remain interested in a potential Leonard trade:
The Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers have interest in Leonard, each with a differing array of young assets to trade for him now and the potential of salary-cap space to sign Leonard outright in 2019.
As teams are preparing to make their offer, the Boston Celtics reportedly made theirs before the trade deadline:
The Boston Celtics made a trade offer to San Antonio before the February deadline, but the Spurs turned it down — and never made a counterproposal, league sources said. San Antonio wasn’t willing to discuss deals for Leonard in February. So far this spring, the Spurs remain resistant to trades.
With the 26-year-old being the best two-way player in the league, he is reportedly nearing 100 percent and will be ready to play for the 2018-19 season. As a result, teams like the Lakers should be able to put together a substantial trade package if the Spurs deem the relationship unfixable.
For the Lakers, they have established a two-year window to sign or trade for an All-Star player such as Leonard. With a young core finally in place after five years of rebuilding through the draft, there are high expectations for president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka.
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