A subplot to NBA free agency beginning on July 1 is how the saga between Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs will unfold. In large part because the Los Angeles Lakers remain involved on both fronts.
Because of a fractured relationship, Leonard reportedly asked the Spurs to trade him to the Lakers or Clippers, with the former serving as his preferred destination. Meanwhile, the Lakers are expected to pursue signing LeBron James and Paul George, if or when they become free agents.
The Lakers were initially rebuked by the Spurs on their initial approach to enter into trade talks. They reportedly fared much better a second time around.
Despite that, the Spurs haven’t shown any inclination to trade Leonard at this time. They will be in position to offer him the five-year, $219 million supermax contract extension, and still have the luxury of Leonard of being under contract through the 2018-19 season.
And while the Spurs are believed to be particularly hesitant to trade with the Lakers, their stance could change with a strong offer, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Adrian Wojnarowski, Brian Windhorst:
The Spurs have wanted to find a way to repair the franchise’s relationship with Leonard, but an overwhelming Lakers offer could convince San Antonio to part with its franchise star, league sources said.
The Lakers certainly don’t lack for assets — Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma — to complete a trade. But they might not be willing to empty the cupboard knowing they would have an opportunity to sign Leonard outright as a 2019 free agent.
However, acquiring Leonard may be the key to signing James, and perhaps George as well. And in May, it was reported the Lakers didn’t consider any members of their young core as untradable.
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