Despite failing to enter the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year, there is no doubt that the Los Angeles Lakers are headed to a bright future with talented players like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma. However, the Lakers could be forced to trade at least one of those young players to acquire a superstar in the trade market this summer. According to Harrison Faigen of Lakers Nation, a deal that involves Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs requires the inclusion of Ball, Ingram, or Kuzma.
“If San Antonio wants to start evaluating trade packages for Leonard this summer, the Los Angeles Lakers would seem able to offer one of the most appealing potential hauls. That is, if they’re willing to include a young player like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma along with whatever other assets it would take to pry Leonard from San Antonio.”
Faigen’s suggested trade package surfaced after a report from Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee revealed that the Coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs will part ways with Kawhi Leonard if his relationship with the organization will continue to worsen in the upcoming offseason. Ball, Ingram, and Kuzma undeniably deserve to become part of the Lakers’ long-term plan. Their performance in the 2017-18 NBA season proves that they have the capability to make the Lakers a team to fear in the Western Conference.
However, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka are desperate to build a title contending team as soon as possible. If the Lakers will get an assurance that Leonard is already 100 percent healthy, there is no reason for them not to pull the trigger.
The successful acquisition of Kawhi Leonard will finally give the Lakers the long-term replacement for Kobe Bryant. If they acquire Leonard before the 2018 NBA free agency starts, it will boost their chance of signing their targets like Paul George, LeBron James, and DeMarcus Cousins. Since the last offseason, George and James top the list of the Lakers’ free agent targets. However, George already expressed his intention to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder, no matter what the outcome of the 2017-18 NBA season.
Luckily, the case is different for LeBron James. With the Cleveland Cavaliers having a hard time dealing with the Victor Oladipo-led Indiana Pacers, it will not be a surprise if James suffers an early playoff exit. Failing to defend their throne as Eastern Conference champions will diminish the Cavs’ chance to bring James back.
On Sports Nation, ESPN‘s Brian Windhorst believes such scenario will give James more time to decide regarding his free agency decision and get in touch with Kawhi Leonard.
“If the Cavs get knocked out before the Finals, and LeBron has six weeks to think about things and get in touch with Kawhi. Things could get a little crazy,” Windhorst said (h/t SB Nation).
When the drama in San Antonio started, there is a growing belief that Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James want to play together in one team. If the Lakers acquire Leonard via trade, they will become a more appealing destination for James. The tandem of James and Leonard will no doubt make the Lakers a legitimate title contender, and there is also a chance that it can help them recruit quality free agents on a cheap deal.