The Cleveland Cavaliers are expected to look for big moves in order to keep LeBron James beyond this season, especially if they fail to win the championship. James is expected to receive offers from several teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets, but a return to the Cavaliers is not out of the picture.
San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard could be placed on the trading block in the offseason if his relationship with his team does not improve. According to Dan Favale of Bleacher Report, Cleveland is a potential landing spot for Leonard, and trading for him makes a lot of sense for the Cavaliers.
James wanted the Cavaliers to make big moves, but they missed out on big trade targets like Paul George last offseason. Favale said that acquiring Leonard would make up for their failure to add another superstar last summer. The Leonard trade will likely keep James in wine and gold either via a new deal or through his $35.61 million player option next season, according to Spotrac.
Trading for the two-time All-Star, who is considered as the best two-way player in the league when healthy, will be easier said than done for Cleveland. However, Favale believes that the Cavaliers have the necessary assets to convince the Spurs to part with the 26-year-old superstar in the offseason.
The Cavaliers could offer George Hill, Kyle Korver, Cedi Osman, Ante Zizic, and the 2018 first-round pick of the Brooklyn Nets. Cleveland would get Leonard and explosive guard Patty Mills in the proposed trade from Favale. The Nets’ pick, which they acquired when they traded Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics last summer, is a huge asset for the Cavaliers.
The deal would hurt Cleveland’s depth, but adding a player of Leonard’s caliber is too good to pass up. While the deal will likely convince James to stay, it could also serve as in insurance policy for Cleveland. They will still have a superstar to build their team around in case the four-time MVP decides to move elsewhere.
For the Spurs, they will get rid of a player who has only played nine games this season due to a quad injury. His recovery and willingness to return generated questions about the stability of his relationship with the Spurs. Losing Leonard would be a big blow for San Antonio, but they would get assets that could help them stay relevant.
Osman and Zizic could develop well playing under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. George Hill and Kyle Korver, on the other hand, would give them additional veteran presence, while the Nets pick could land them one of the top 10 prospects in the 2018 NBA Draft.