Despite the acquisition of LeBron James in free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers are still not in a position to fully dominate the Western Conference next season. The Golden State Warriors just got stronger and could enter the NBA Playoffs 2019 with a starting lineup featuring five All-Stars. If the Lakers want to give the Warriors some tough competition, they should prioritize surrounding James with more star power, wherein Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs could be a realistic trade target.
After a season filled with drama and frustration, Kawhi Leonard expressed his desire to leave the Spurs and said that he preferred to be traded to the Lakers. Leonard also informed other interested teams that he will be heading to Los Angeles when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next offseason. To prevent losing valuable trade assets, the Lakers could just wait for Leonard’s contract to expire. But according to Jordan Greer of Sporting News, the Lakers should avoid making the same mistake they did last summer when they passed on trading for Paul George.
Greer suggested that the Lakers may consider offering a trade package including Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and a future first-round pick to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard.
“The Lakers eliminate the risk of losing Leonard to another team — hello, Paul George — by bringing him to LA immediately. This is how Magic Johnson proves he is serious about building a championship contender. They lose Ingram, who has shown star potential, but the Spurs are unlikely to listen unless his name is included in any deal. This allows the Spurs to remain competitive now while building for the next few years.”
The proposed trade deal makes sense for both the Spurs and the Lakers, as it will help them address the issues on their roster. The Spurs will be receiving three young and promising talents for a player who no longer wants to stay with the team. Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart have shown superstar potential last season. The Spurs could mold them to become the next “Big Three” in San Antonio.
Meanwhile, the Lakers would have two of the best two-way players in the league in Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James. The potential acquisition of Leonard will not only give them another scoring threat, but he will also give the Lakers a tremendous boost on the defensive end of the floor.
Unfortunately, as of now, there is no strong indication that the Kawhi Leonard-to-Lakers trade will be happening soon. As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed, the Lakers have not shown a “sense of urgency” in trading for Leonard.