On Friday, word came out from Kawhi Leonard’s camp that he wants out of San Antonio and wants to be traded to Los Angeles with Lakers as his preferred destination. Leonard is from Southern California and has been rehabbing in San Diego recently according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. There is no question Leonard would love to come home and play for his hometown team. Leonard has some leverage in deciding where the Spurs could trade him with only 1 year remaining on his contract. He will be a free agent in the summer of 2019 and could therefore let a team trying to trade for him know whether he would be willing to sign long term or opt out into free agency. There is zero doubt Kawhi would be willing to sign long term with the Lakers, the rest of the league would be taking a risk in trading for Leonard.
This is where leverage comes in to play with Leonard and his camp. Kawhi and his camp must leak info and advise the Spurs that other teams in the market trying to trade for him that he would not sign any extensions or long term deals so he can then force his way to Los Angeles. The Spurs would then be forced to make a deal with the Lakers. However, don’t expect the Spurs to hand over Kawhi to the Lakers that easily. The Spurs would insist on some of the young prized core players on the Lakers roster such as Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart. The Lakers could wait for 2019 and try to sign Leonard in free agency, but why wait and take a risk like they did with Paul George who could possibly be resigning in Oklahoma City this summer. The Lakers have the assets to make a deal and they must make a move now.
Even with the Spurs asking for some of the Lakers’ young prospects, the Lakers would still be in prime position to entice LeBron James and Paul George to join Leonard in Los Angeles this summer. That should and could possibly be the main reason the Lakers don’t blink and trade away their young prospects even if Ingram, Lonzo or Kuzma are included. It would catapult the Lakers from rebuilding the franchise into a championship contender.
Your move, Lakers.