San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard is expected to be one of the NBA superstars who will be on the trading block this offseason. Despite having a one-on-one conversation with Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich, Leonard still wants his way out of San Antonio and reportedly sees Los Angeles as his preferred trade destination.
Both the Lakers and the Clippers have expressed their desire to add Kawhi Leonard to their team this offseason. While rumors are circulating that the Lakers will offer a trade package centered on Lonzo Ball, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports revealed that the Spurs have “zero interest” in acquiring the former second overall pick.
“And wouldn’t you know, there are the Lakers, semi-functional for the first time in years, with the assets to piece together an interesting trade package. San Antonio has zero interest in Lonzo Ball — or, more accurately, the circus that Ball brings with him — but a Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, draft-pick(s) deal (with Luol Deng tossed in to make the money work) is compelling, particularly if other teams, wary of Leonard walking in 2019, don’t go all-in with offers.”
Lonzo Ball would be the perfect replacement for Tony Parker as the Spurs’ starting point guard. However, it seems like the Spurs don’t want to add another headache to their organization, not Lonzo but his controversial father LaVar Ball. If the Lakers are serious about acquiring Kawhi Leonard, Mannix suggested a trade package including Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and draft picks. To match the salary, the Lakers could also trade Luol Deng to the Spurs.
The proposed trade deal will undeniably be beneficial for both the Spurs and the Lakers. The acquisition of Kawhi Leonard will strengthen the Lakers’ chance of signing their target superstars in the free agency market like LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder. It will also allow them to dump Luol Deng and the remaining two years and $36.8 million on his contract.
Meanwhile, the Spurs will be acquiring two young and talented players that could help them reshape their future. Brandon Ingram could be the ideal replacement for Leonard in the wing, while Kyle Kuzma will be teaming up with LaMarcus Aldridge in the Spurs’ frontcourt. Playing under Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich will help Ingram and Kuzma further improve their game just like what he did to Leonard, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.
However, before making any deal, the Lakers first need an assurance that Leonard is 100 percent healthy. Tania Ganguli of Los Angeles Times reported that the Lakers and the Clippers have concerns about Leonard’s injury that limited him from playing last season.