All summer, San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard has been at the center of NBA trade rumors and speculation about whether or not he’ll force a trade or if the Los Angeles Lakers will look to acquire him.
The latest reporting implies that the Lakers are so confident they can get Leonard that they won’t sign LeBron James this offseason, which is a solid way to frame not getting James, I guess.
However, that reported confidence the Lakers have is in their ability to sign Leonard, not trade for him, which would seem to fit with Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer reporting that the Spurs aren’t going to let go of Leonard up unless a team blows them away:
It’s really just a matter of what the Spurs would want in a package. I’ve heard from multiple NBA executives that San Antonio won’t settle for anything less than a grand-slam offer. If offers were underwhelming around the draft and the start of free agency, the Spurs might opt to let the saga drag into training camp, or even into the season. Leonard could always rekindle his relationship with the team, or return to the floor and increase his trade value.
So essentially, these anonymous sources are saying the same thing just about any NBA fan could tell you: The Spurs aren’t just going to give Leonard away, which is hardly surprising.
Now, multiple NBA executives obviously lend credence to that idea, but it’s always been clear that if the Lakers want to deal for Leonard that it won’t be easy. The team would likely have to give up at least two of their core of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart, as well as potentially other assets as well if they want to trade for a top-five player like Leonard.
The Lakers might — and probably should — feel that such a package is too steep of a price to pay if they’re confident they can get Leonard to return to Southern California next summer anyway, but it’s clear that the Spurs are posturing hard across the league to make sure that if they can’t keep Leonard, at least they’ll get a solid haul for him.
There is still a long summer and training camp period in which things could change, but for now, it seems likely the Lakers and Spurs are at an impasse on any theoretical deal for Leonard.