With NBA free agency due to begin this weekend, the Los Angeles Lakers are operating on multiple fronts. They’re expected to pursue the likes of Paul George and LeBron James, and have also been connected to Kawhi Leonard trade rumors.
The disgruntled All-Star is said to have recently asked the San Antonio Spurs for a trade, and it’s believed his preferred destination is the Lakers. So much so that Leonard reportedly has informed teams interested in trading for him that he would likely sign with the Lakers as a 2019 free agent.
It’s a strategy similar to George’s last summer, and one that ultimately didn’t send him to Los Angeles but instead the Oklahoma City Thunder. After spending a season with the team, there’s a strong sense George will re-sign with the Thunder.
Meanwhile, the Lakers reportedly are feeling increased pressure to complete a trade with the Spurs in order to lure James into signing.
And with that, the team has been in search of acquiring future first-round draft picks to potentially package in a trade offer for Leonard, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne:
The Lakers have been hunting a future first-round draft pick on the trade market in recent days, league sources said. That pick could be used to sweeten a prospective trade opportunity.
Although the Spurs may be hesitant to trade with the Lakers, they would back off that stance if it meant receiving the best return for Leonard.
From the Lakers’ perspective, they might be best off looping in a third team in a trade. If not, they presumably would need to part with significantly more assets in order to acquire Leonard.
Another layer is the Spurs’ pace at which they may look to trade the 26-year-old. Leonard has one year remaining on his contract and is eligible for the five-year, $219 million supermax extension.
A trade would nullify that, but Leonard reportedly is not worried about the financial implications.
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