The LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard hype train is now at full speed with so many NBA pundits, head coaches, and players giving their take on a potential super-tandem featuring two of the game’s best players.
Put former Los Angeles Lakers player and head coach Byron Scott in the list of people preaching for a LeBron-Kawhi team-up in purple-and-gold uniform soon. In his appearance on ESPN’s SportsNation, Scott thinks these superstars will be coming to the Lakers and they are going to be as good as the Showtime Lakers in the ’80s.
“LeBron is coming to the Lakers along with Kawhi. We are back in the NBA Finals. It’s not going to that point Showtime, I am not going to go overboard but it’s gonna be close.”
Both superstars are heading into a summer full of uncertainty with LeBron having the ability to opt out on the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and become a free agent while Kawhi emerges as a trade candidate because of his deteriorating relationship with the San Antonio Spurs organization.
Scott pointed out the Lakers’ promising young core (Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and possibly Julius Randle) and championship history as the biggest factors why James and Leonard would eventually join forces in Los Angeles this summer.
ESPN’s NBA insider Brian Windhorst agreed that the Lakers are a prime destination for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, advising the team to start putting together a package for Kawhi the moment the Spurs got eliminated in the playoffs.
As Windhorst stressed out, Kawhi’s fate is pretty much connected to the Cavaliers superstar. The general belief among NBA pundits and executives is LeBron would prefer joining the team that won the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes, giving him a bona fide superstar player to play with.
Right now, only the Lakers have the resources and drawing power to accommodate both Leonard and James. The midseason trade deadline that sent Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cavaliers in exchange for the expiring contracts of Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye put the Lakers in position to make a run at two max-level free agents this summer.
Of course, Leonard won’t be a free agent until 2019, so the only way for the Lakers to acquire him is through a trade that could involve several young players and assets they have collected over the last few years. There’s a good chance the Lakers would include former No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram, rookie sensation Kyle Kuzma, and two-way stud Josh Hart in their package just to meet what would be a very steep asking price from the Spurs.
A couple of Atlantic Division teams could bring some competition to the Lakers for Leonard as both the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers possess the assets to bid for the two-way star player. The Sixers, in particular, are also linked to LeBron as another option should the four-time NBA MVP hit the free agency market.