The Los Angeles Lakers will pursue LeBron James and Paul George in free agency this summer, but it remains to be seen whether they will succeed in their bid to bring both superstars to Hollywood. The Lakers are currently in a good position to add both, as they have an attractive young roster and the needed cap space to make it happen.
However, if the Lakers miss out on their main targets this offseason, they need to make a good backup move to avoid disappointing their fan base. And according to Ben Golliver and Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated, the Lakers should consider trading Brandon Ingram in a deal for San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.
There is no strong indication at this point that James and George will move to the Lakers. James could stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers if they win the title. George, on the other hand, hinted that staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder is his top priority, telling ESPN that how they finish the season will not dictate his decision in free agency.
Golliver said that if the Lakers feel that they are out of the race for the top free agents this summer, they should move Ingram for Leonard. He pointed out that Leonard might not be the type of superstar the Lakers need personality-wise, but Golliver said that no one will consider the Lakers a loser this summer if they strike a trade for the two-time All-Star.
Leonard could become a stabilizer for the Lakers, who are currently oozing with promising prospects such as Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart. Golliver is convinced that acquiring the Spurs superstar in a trade “would be a huge win” for Los Angeles because the 26-year-old is still one of the top 10 players in the league.
Sharp, on the other hand, agreed that the Spurs might decide to trade Leonard to Los Angeles if they get Ingram in return. Losing Leonard would be a big blow for San Antonio, but they could become a strong contender again with a new face of the franchise in Ingram several years from now.
The Spurs would also get rid of a player who is likely causing tension in the locker room. He has only played nine games this season due to a quad injury. Previous reports indicated that his decision to stay out is causing instability in the organization, which was once considered as the most stable in the league before the Kawhi saga started.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported late last month that the Spurs had a players-only meeting to convince Leonard to return. The alleged meeting was reportedly tense and emotional. Several players denied such speculation about the conference, but Tony Parker came out with a statement, which was viewed by most fans as a swipe at Leonard.
Tony Parker on his return from the career-threatening quad injury he suffered last May: I’ve been through it. It was a rehab for me for eight months. Same kind of injury (as Kawhi), but mine was a hundred times worse. But the same kind of injury. You just stay positive."
— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) March 23, 2018