The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to chase superstars like LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder in free agency. The Lakers are thirsty for a proven superstar, which is the reason why they created cap space for two max-level free agents. But aside from free agency, Los Angeles might eventually get the chance to get a superstar in a trade this offseason.
Kawhi Leonard could be dealt this summer after a tumultuous year with the San Antonio Spurs this season. The Lakers are expected to express interest in the two-time All-Star if the Spurs make him available in a trade. They will likely be forced to move budding superstar Brandon Ingram in a potential deal for Leonard, but Isaac Gutierrez of LA Sports Hub believes the Lakers should be open to such scenario.
Ingram, the second overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, appears ready to make the jump to stardom soon. After averaging 9.4 points in 79 games last season, the 20-year-old is tallying 16.1 points on 47 percent shooting from the field this season. He is also posting 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game for the Lakers.
Like most fans and analysts, Gutierrez believes that the ceiling for Ingram is sky high, which makes him almost untouchable in any trade. However, if the Spurs ask for him in a potential trade for Leonard, Gutierrez said that the Lakers should not hesitate because the chance to get a top-five player is too good to pass up.
Gutierrez also pointed out that while Ingram is oozing with potential, it remains to be seen whether he would reach the level of a healthy Leonard. Age would not be an issue as well because the Spurs superstar will just turn 27 in June, which means that his best days are still probably ahead of him.
The Lakers have big ambitions, as they want to add two superstars to their team in order to become a serious title contender. If they acquire Leonard, they will just be a star away from their goal, and it could get easier for them because they will be an attractive destination for free agents with Leonard on the roster.
Jamaal Artis of LA Sports Hub also agreed that Los Angeles should give up Ingram if it would give them the opportunity to get a player of Leonard’s caliber. He is convinced that adding the San Diego State standout could help the Lakers reach a new level next season, especially if they will successfully convince another superstar to move to Hollywood.
Leonard has only played nine games this season due to a quad injury. Last season, the seven-year veteran averaged a career-high 25.5 points on top of 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He could become a free agent after next season if he opts out of his $21.32 million contract for the 2019-20 NBA season, according to Spotrac.