For all the anticipation of the Los Angeles Lakers making a splash in free agency, they’ve also been a mainstay in trade rumors, and specifically with relation to San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.
The 26-year-old requested that the Spurs trade him, with Leonard open to joining the Lakers or Clippers. It’s believed his preference is on joining the Lakers, even after a meeting with Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
With that, teams have reportedly engaged San Antonio in trade talks. They are said to be fielding offers but not actively shopping their All-Star.
The Lakers were initially turned away in their first approach to engaging the Spurs in trade talks, but were then said to have more productive talks on Wednesday. L.A. reportedly feels some pressure to complete a trade for Leonard in order to convince LeBron James to sign.
In their effort to pry Leonard from the Spurs, the Lakers are using trade packages for Kyrie Irving and Paul George as the baseline in negotiations, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Adrian Wojnarowski, Brian Windhorst:
The Lakers are using the Paul George and Kyrie Irving trades as proportional models for a Leonard deal, but San Antonio understands that this trade, for intents and purposes, would mean Leonard and James coming to the Lakers, and will likely command a massive package of young players and draft picks for Leonard, a two-time first-team All-NBA and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
For Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers received Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round draft pick. After the deal was hung up over Thomas’ physical, Boston added a 2020 second-round pick to complete the trade.
Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers received Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis from the Oklahoma City Thunder. George ironically was in a similar position as Leonard — entering the final year of his contract and openly telling teams his preference was to be traded to the Lakers.
It was considered a modest return, but one that wound up working out well for the Pacers. As noted in the report, the Lakers may have difficulty in selling the Spurs on a similar package due to the widespread belief that acquiring Leonard would lead to signing James.
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