After weeks of speculation and an inability to repair their relationship, the San Antonio Spurs reportedly are prepared to trade Kawhi Leonard. At the time of requesting he be moved, Leonard made it clear his preference was to join the Los Angeles Lakers.
Their initial effort didn’t get far, but on Wednesday the Lakers and Spurs were said to have had ‘productive’ trade talks. Although Los Angeles is where the 26-year-old hopes to land, the Spurs haven’t shown much of an indication to simply honor that request outright.
Early reports suggested they were not open to sending Leonard to the Lakers. More recently, San Antonio were said to be willing to trade Leonard to Los Angeles if they received an overwhelming offer.
During Thursday’s episode of “First Take” on ESPN, Stephen A. Smith reported the Lakers would need to assemble a trade package that included Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and potentially Josh Hart:
“The Los Angeles Lakers, from what I’m being told, would have to give up Kuzma and Ingram, possibly a guy like Josh Hart, who the Spurs like, and probably a pick as well.”
That corroborates with a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who also mentioned Ingram as being someone the Spurs would want:
The Lakers are willing to include former No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram and a future first-round pick in a package for Leonard, but the Spurs are seeking a far more complete haul of Lakers young players and future picks, league sources said.
If the Lakers wished to retain Ingram or Kuzma, another option presumably could be Julius Randle in a sign-and-trade. Los Angeles extended Randle a qualifying offer on Wednesday, making him a restricted free agent.
Whether to part with the aforementioned assets or simply wait to pursue Leonard in free agency is one the challenges facing the Lakers. President of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have maintained they will be disciplined in their decisions.
But the Lakers played the waiting game with Paul George, and now there are several indications he may very well re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder rather than make his long anticipated return to Southern California.
Moreover, it’s believed acquiring Leonard would mean LeBron James would elect to sign with the Lakers. Another layer to the reported trade talks is James wishes to make his free agency decision rather quickly, and he is hesitant to sign with the Lakers without another star in place.
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