With free agency starting this weekend around the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers seem to be in the mix for every big-name player. That obviously includes both Paul George and LeBron James.
Though, there’s one move the team could make before free agency that might be able to attract those two above-mentioned players. That includes trading for disgruntled San Antonio Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard.
Long said to be interested in Leonard, this report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne indicates that pressure is mounting for the Lakers to acquire Leonard.
“As LeBron James remains hesitant to be the first superstar to decide on the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, pressure is mounting for the Lakers front office to execute a trade with the San Antonio Spurs to acquire disgruntled All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard, league sources told ESPN,” the trio reported.
James himself doesn’t want to head to Southern California without any other star players joining him. If the Lakers can make a move for Leonard prior to free agency starting, it would up their chances of acquiring King James.
And while the Spurs have been reluctant to even talk trade with Los Angeles, this report goes on to note that they have not completely closed the door on dealing Leonard to the Lakers.
The trio reports that a package surrounding former first-round picks Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart as well as future first-round picks would be needed to get Leonard. The Lakers themselves are also said to be looking to acquire a future first-round pick to help facilitate a Leonard trade.
Lakers President Magic Johnson has noted that he’s not feeling any pressure heading into free agency. That’s fine and dandy. But an inability to land a star player could very well loom over his head in what could, according to Johnson, be a short stint in that role.
Remember, Los Angeles held off on trading assets for Paul George last summer with the assumption that he’d sign with the team this year. Now that George is more likely to return to the Thunder and Leonard has reportedly shown interest in signing with the Lakers, the time might be now for Johnson and Co. to give up said assets for a star player.