San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard and Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside could part ways with their respective teams in the upcoming offseason. Leonard’s injury continues to worsen the drama surrounding the Spurs, while Whiteside recently expressed his frustration with his lack of playing time in Miami. If the problem can’t be fixed, both superstars are expected to become available on the trade market in the upcoming offseason.
On the Lakers Nation Podcast, Trevor Lane and Hannah Kulik discussed the possibility of the Los Angeles Lakers trading for superstars in the upcoming offseason. The Lakers are expected to make a huge splash this summer, and President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka are very confident that they can bring superstars in Los Angeles. However, before taking the trade route, the Lakers’ main priority is hitting their targets in the free agency market.
Since the offseason, the Lakers have been busy making moves to create enough salary cap space for two maximum-salaried players. LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder top the list of the Lakers’ free agent targets. If they end up empty-handed once again, Johnson and Pelinka might think it’s time for them to engage in a deal with other teams. Aside from the salary cap space, the Lakers also have enough trade assets to acquire a superstar this summer.
One of their potential trade targets is Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat. Whiteside recently voiced his frustration after being benched in the final 21 minutes of the Heat’s 110-109 overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. According to ESPN, the 28-year-old center said he should play more and could be better somewhere else. The Lakers had strongly pursued Whiteside in 2016 free agency before he signed a maximum contract with the Heat. If he becomes available on the trading block, it would not be a surprise if the Lakers make a move.
However, Trevor Lane of Lakers Nation believes Hassan Whiteside would be an odd fit in Los Angeles. If the Lakers re-sign Julius Randle and succeed to acquire Whiteside from the Heat, they will have two potential starters who can’t space the floor. Another reason why the Lakers should think twice before trading for the disgruntled big man is his current contract. As Lane noted, trading for Whiteside and his huge contract will prevent the Lakers from chasing superstars in the summer of 2019.
Kawhi Leonard is also an interesting trade target for the Lakers. The ongoing drama in San Antonio created the belief that Leonard and the Spurs are headed into an inevitable divorce in the upcoming offseason. When healthy, Leonard is undeniably a better target than Whiteside.
He can boost the Lakers on both ends of the floor and will give them a proven superstar they have been missing since Kobe Bryant retired. The potential acquisition of Kawhi Leonard will also strengthen the Lakers’ chance of signing free agent superstars this summer, specifically LeBron James. James will surely love the idea of teaming up with Leonard, a known “LeBron-stopper.” However, to convince the Spurs to make a deal, the Lakers will likely need to sacrifice Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, or Lonzo Ball.