Heading into the offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers are in a good spot financially to land a superstar or two in free agency. However, they could also use their cap flexibility to land someone via trade like Kawhi Leonard, who is reportedly disgruntled with the San Antonio Spurs’ coaching staff and management.
According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, an unnamed NBA executive believes Leonard will force a trade to the Lakers in the summer, using his 2019 unrestricted free agency status as leverage.
“I think they go in hard for Leonard once the season is over and once the dust settles in San Antonio,” the executive said. “[Leonard] wants to go to LA. There probably won’t be public demands on that, but he has leverage. He is going to be a free agent [in 2019]. He’s an LA guy and he can just let teams know he won’t re-sign next year with anyone but the Lakers.”
Another anonymous NBA general manager reiterated that the Lakers are favorites to land Leonard either this summer or next summer, per Deveney.
“I would say that’s the most likely thing,” the general manager said. “He’s going to be their target any way you look at it, this summer or next summer. There’s not many other ways to explain what’s been going on with that situation other than him trying to get out of San Antonio.”
Leonard has appeared in just nine games for the Spurs this season, with his last game played on Jan. 13. Does the front office want to give up assets for a player with lingering quad issues, especially when said player can walk in free agency the following year?
We know the stance the former front office took on that issue, now we’ll just have to wait and see how much the new front office regime values their assets.
The Lakers and the Spurs can start trade talks as soon as San Antonio’s season is over. With the way the first round against the Golden State Warriors is going for the Spurs, it could be sooner rather than later.
You can follow Christian Rivas on Twitter @RadRivas.