The 2018 offseason will mark the start of the Los Angeles Lakers’ pursuit for multiple superstars. President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka are very confident that they can bring the purple and gold back to title contention. One of their potential targets this summer is Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs.
The worsening drama in San Antonio is expected to result in the inevitable divorce between Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs. The Spurs will likely consider moving the All-Star forward if he decides not to sign a massive contract extension this summer. However, as most people think, any team who wants to acquire Leonard will need to give up valuable assets.
Since Leonard’s name surfaced in trade rumors, the Los Angeles Lakers emerge as one of the interested teams. Dan Favale of Bleacher Report recently suggested a deal that would send Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, and a 2019 first-round pick to San Antonio for Leonard. The Spurs will surely love the assets they will receive from trading the disgruntled superstar. But does giving up those talented players make sense for the Lakers?
Brandon Ingram is believed to be the next face of the Lakers’ franchise when Kobe Bryant retired in 2016. Despite a disappointing rookie season, Ingram made a huge improvement in his sophomore year, averaging 16.1 points and 5.3 assists on 47 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc. Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart, both considered as steals of the 2017 NBA draft, have immediately made a good impression in their first year as NBA players, proving that they should be part of the Lakers’ long-term future.
However, it seems like the Lakers aren’t patient enough to wait for those players to evolve into proven superstars. That’s why, aside from potentially trading for Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers are also planning to be aggressive on the free agency market targeting superstars with Cleveland Cavaliers main man LeBron James topping the list. Chris Ross of USA Today Sports believes Leonard trade will have a huge impact on LeBron’s free agency.
If the Lakers succeed to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs, it will definitely increase their chance of signing James. The tandem of Leonard and James will surely make the Lakers a team to fear in the league and could help them end their title drought. However, if things don’t go as they expected, the Lakers will be wasting multiple talented players because of their desperation to return to the NBA Finals.
Before entering any trade discussion involving their young core, the Lakers should first consider looking into the potential impact of their action on their long-term goal. One wrong decision could ruin the entire franchise and will force them to undergo another full-scale rebuild.