As the 2018 free agency draws closer, the Los Angeles Lakers are becoming more aggressive on the trade market, hoping to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs. According to ESPN, NBA teams believe that the potential acquisition of Leonard will give the Lakers’ a strong chance of signing Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, who is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent.
When the Lakers first inquired about Kawhi Leonard’s availability, the Spurs immediately “shut the door” and showed no interest in having a dialogue. However, the Lakers didn’t give up and reengaged in a trade discussion with the Spurs. The Spurs remain optimistic that they can convince Leonard to stay and sign a massive contract extension, but league sources reportedly told ESPN that an “overwhelming Lakers offer” may convince San Antonio to send the disgruntled superstar to Los Angeles.
Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report recently suggested a trade package that could persuade the Spurs to engage in a trade deal with the Lakers. In the proposed trade deal, the Lakers will be sending Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Luol Deng, and a future first-round pick to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs may need to add another player in the deal to match the salary.
“The prizes for the Spurs would be Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, the promising young forwards who along with point guard Dejounte Murray and newly minted first-round pick Lonnie Walker IV would form a promising young core for the next era of San Antonio basketball. The Lakers would undoubtedly be open to including Lonzo Ball in place of Ingram or Kuzma, but it’s tough to imagine Gregg Popovich wanting any part of the off-court circus that comes with Ball.”
Trading Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart is undeniably a tough decision for the Lakers. The three young Lakers have shown potential to become superstars in the league, and if they continue to grow together, some people believe they could build the next dynasty in Los Angeles. However, it is a sacrifice the Lakers need to make in order to achieve their goal this summer.
Successfully acquiring Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James will make the Lakers a legitimate title contender next season. It may also convince other incoming free agents like Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets to leave their respective teams and sign with the Lakers.
Helping the Lakers build a title-contending team is definitely a huge risk for the Spurs. However, the potential trade assets they will acquire from the Lakers could help them speed up the rebuilding process in order to become a significant team in the Western Conference in the next couple of years.