The key to getting LeBron James may now be Kawhi Leonard, and the Los Angeles Lakers are going for it. When healthy, Leonard has proven to be one of the league's top players, and always seems capable of being in the conversation for the MVP award, which is why it really isn't a surprise to see all these teams expressing interest. But according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst, the Lakers and Spurs re-engaged in trade talks Wednesday, and the outcome will have massive implications. Still, sending Leonard not only to a Western Conference foe but a rival as well will be a tough pill to swallow.
In order to attempt to sweeten any potential deal they make for Leonard, the Lakers are reportedly attempting to add another future 1st round pick and are willing to take on salary dumps to do so.
Most of the free agents that the Lakers have this summer were not part of the long-term plans and simply were one-year rentals to free up this summer. That would be a blow to the Lakers, who reportedly had been anticipating that George, also a Southern California native, would join them this offseason. This has caused them and possibly other teams to low-ball deals to the Spurs.
James has played in the NBA Finals eight consecutive seasons.
The Lakers are in no rush to sign the 25th overall pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, Michigan forward Mo Wagner, to his rookie scale deal, which would allow the Lakers to include his draft rights into a trade package, league sources said. This should all but erase any thoughts the Lakers have about waiting a year for Leonard.
In just nine games with the Spurs this past season, Leonard put up 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals per contest. L.A. should be able to offer incoming players plenty of minutes, especially if the front office moves young talent like Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and/or Josh Hart in a trade for Leonard.