The rumor mill continues to heat up and is starting to go full combustion with the NBA trade deadline only two weeks away. The Los Angeles Lakers remain to be in the spotlight as latest trade rumors suggest of a potential deal with the San Antonio Spurs for two-way superstar Kawhi Leonard.
It is no secret that the Lakers have made some of their young stars available in the trade market. Lakers Nation reported that the Hollywood franchise placed Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., and Julius Randle on the trading block, in order to gather future draft picks and expiring contracts in preparation for the incoming offseason.
There had been many speculations of potential destinations for all three young players. Some of those are the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, and Portland Trail Blazers. The latest team that is being linked to the Lakers is the San Antonio Spurs.
One Laker youngster that was mentioned for the first time in trade rumors is sophomore Brandon Ingram, who is considered as one of the Lakers’ “untouchables” when it comes to a potential deal.
Ingram, 20, was drafted second overall in the 2016 draft. His rookie year performance was decent considering the high expectations but have improved so much this season. The former Duke standout currently averages 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 33.7 minutes per game as a Lakers starter.
Before the Lakers drafted Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma in June of last year, team president Magic Johnson said that Ingram would be “the only player” the Lakers are not going to trade, per ESPN. Magic went on to enumerate Ingram’s upsides, saying that he is excited about the player’s “length, his size, his agility, his athleticism” and thinks that “he really has a high ceiling.”
However, presented with the possibility of acquiring one of the NBA’s current top five players, some analysts believe that Magic and company might reconsider their previous stand regarding Ingram.
FanSided‘s LA Sports Hub suggested a potential deal that would send Ingram, Clarkson, and Nance Jr. to the Spurs in exchange for former NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
Recent reports are out that Leonard has become “unhappy” in San Antonio. ESPN indicated that the two-time All-Star’s relationship with the franchise and coaching staff, particularly with head coach Gregg Popovich, is “becoming strained” due to his ongoing injury rehabilitation.
ESPN reporting with me, @mikecwright and @ZachLowe_NBA: Months of discord centering on treatment, rehab and timetables for return have created chilling impact on Kawhi Leonard/Spurs relationship. GM RC Buford rejects reporting of turbulence. https://t.co/uFE0dEpSgl— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 22, 2018
Popovich has since denied those allegations, saying that the rumors have not affected the team or himself “or anybody else,” according to a separate ESPN report. The five-time NBA champion coach also said that Leonard’s rehab is just “going slower than we expected” and that the team had done the same thing with Tim Duncan before, so it should not be a big deal.
Still, trade rumors bringing up Leonard would not stop emerging as of late.
Reed said that while the suggested trade between the Lakers and Spurs are sure to be unpopular for both sides’ fan bases, it could actually be a win-win situation for the two squads.
In getting Leonard, the Lakers receive an “established superstar” who can attract the likes of Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, or even LeBron James in the upcoming free agency, which is the team’s reported objective ever since Magic took the reins.
Meanwhile, the Spurs obtain a “potential superstar” who is a “franchise caliber player” in Ingram as well as having two other young stars that would deepen San Antonio’s bench even further.