Since assuming front office role, Los Angeles Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka have already revealed their ambitious plan to make the Purple and Gold an attractive destination for superstars. They started by trading bad contracts to other NBA teams in order to create enough salary cap space to sign two maximum-salaried players this offseason.
In the past months, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder emerged as the Lakers’ top targets in the free agency market. Though there are still a few days before free agency starts, both superstars have expressed interest in teaming up in Los Angeles next season. Aside from hunting superstars in free agency, the Lakers also have a plethora of trade assets to acquire a superstar this summer.
After a season filled with drama and frustration, Kawhi Leonard already wanted his way out of the San Antonio Spurs and reportedly preferred to be traded to the Lakers. However, according to Ramon Shelburne of ESPN, the Lakers tried contacting the Spurs about a potential deal centered on Leonard, but San Antonio “shut the door” and showed no interest of having a dialogue.
Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka doesn’t seem surprised with the way the Spurs acted towards them during the potential trade negotiation. Pelinka told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN they understand why opposing teams aren’t eager to help them build a title-contending team.
“It’s interesting because we knew we wanted to try to acquire another pick in the beginning of the second round, and as I said, we’re in discussions on that, [but] we feel like we’re going to be able to accomplish that. So it’s not like teams are saying, ‘Oh, I’m not going to do a deal with the Lakers,’ but I do think when you have 16 banners, there’s going to be a natural envy from your competitors because you’re sitting at the top of the food chain, but that’s just life in general.”
So @sam_amick is reporting that the Spurs will only trade Kawhi to the East. Philly has to be heavy favs - cap space to absorb Kawhi/Patty Mills plus 3 of Fultz/Saric/Covington/ZSmith plus that killer 2021 Miami pick plus Bayless expiring.https://t.co/uAakatyUF1— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 23, 2018
The potential acquisition of Kawhi Leonard or another NBA superstar via trade will have a huge impact in the Lakers’ pursuit of superstars in the upcoming free agency. Adding Leonard to their current roster will give them a higher chance of signing Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James. As most people think, the only way the Lakers can convince James to leave Cleveland for Los Angeles is to show him that they can help him win an NBA championship title next season.
Opposing teams like the Spurs must be aware of the scenario, and as of now, they are doing everything they can do to prevent the Lakers from becoming a major threat in the Western Conference once again. Pelinka said they respect the Spurs’ decision, but they remain optimistic that they can accomplish their goal this offseason.