If the rumors that the agents representing injured San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard want to get him moved to a big market are true, should the Los Angeles Lakers try to get in on what will be frenzied trade negotiations for the versatile wing? We asked our crew in our latest Silver Screen and Roll roundtable.
How much should the Lakers offer for Kawhi Leonard, should he become available?
The Lakers should put together an attractive offer should Leonard somehow become available, but they shouldn’t gut their entire future to get someone who may very well become an unrestricted free agent next summer. It’s also worth mentioning the severity of his quad injury is a mystery and could linger long term.
The Lakers should make everyone available not named Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, while trying to prioritize on keeping Julius Randle and Lonzo Ball. However, it seems highly unlikely one of these players remain on the Lakers should the Spurs and the Lakers agree to a deal.
For the first time in over five years, this organization enters the off-season in a relatively enviable position. Put simply, they finally appear to have options. While you definitely want to avoid giving up too much of in a hypothetical Leonard deal - as a certain level of attachment to what has already been an exciting, young core is understandable - you absolutely have to make an attempt to acquire one of the game’s best all-around players if the opportunity presents itself.
No one wants to see any of these young Lakers in an opposing uniform, but you’d imagine the Spurs would want to start the conversation with Ingram and go from there. Depending upon the offers from other teams, combined with a reported (rumored) desire to move Leonard to an Eastern Conference team, this may be a bit of a moot point to begin with.
The package starts with Ingram and then we build from there. It’s a challenging starting point given Ingram’s age, Leonard’s injury history and his forthcoming free agency, but the old adage applies here: “Will the player they give up ever be as good as the player they receive?”
Despite a boatload of mitigating factors, the answer is ultimately no. If his development continues to break all the right ways, BI should develop into a two way force--an absolutely destructive defensive figure and an extremely versatile inside-outside offensive weapon. If Kawhi is indeed on the block, a potential poor man’s Kawhi is the starting point.
After that? I think one potential blue chipper is quite enough. Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma should rest easy. A future top-5 protected pick sounds about right to me, given previous deals for players like DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving. Anything more than Ingram, a protected first rounder and cap ballast is too rich for my tastes.
How much should the Lakers offer for Leonard, should he become available?
If the Spurs were to make Leonard available via trade, the Lakers absolutely should do their due diligence and present an offer. Now, how expansive that offer would be in my opinion, should correlate with two things: 1) The knowledge a top tier free-agent is definitely coming to join and 2) A full bill of clear health for Leonard.
Kawhi most definitely increases their chances to reel in another max caliber player this summer, and if that is the case then the team most likely should consider parting ways with some of the young core considering those cost-controlled contracts will eventually expire. A package centering around one of Ingram/Kuzma and then throwing in supplementary pieces like Hart, first-round picks, etc, hopefully would be enough to pry Leonard out of Pop’s fingers.
In terms of health, the Lakers must be weary of the injury concerns and how it effects his career trajectory before making any potential offers, especially with the knowledge Leonard could hypothetically be available to acquire for free in the summer of 2019.
If the Lakers can only get two of LeBron James, Paul George and Leonard, who should they go with?
Any correct answer would start with landing King James, as he’s still the best player in the game today. If Lakers can land two of the three superstars, they should be throwing a parade in front of Staples Center in July. Ideally, the combination of Leonard trade and a James signing would push this team to elite status.
There’s really no wrong answer in this, but the preferred combination should be James and Leonard. If a deal for Leonard proves to be too costly, then signing George would be one hell of a consolation prize.
In an absolutely perfect world, finding a way to move or shed Luol Deng’s contract so you could then conceivably re-sign Randle on top of bringing in one or two of the aforementioned stars would make for the best summer in decades for this organization.
And for the record, while this scenario is clearly far-fetched and will undoubtedly be referred to as “Lakers exceptionalism” or simple click-bait, the fact that a legitimate conversation can actually be held is a great sign for fans of the team.
George is the absolute gimme here — while he is an All-NBA-caliber player, he doesn’t come with the same type of gravity of that LeBron brings and wouldn’t cost assets to acquire. If he’s available, he’s the first option and is almost a stone cold lock to be one of the most popular Lakers in recent memory.
The second choice would be James. Yes, he’s 33 and yes, the Lakers will be back in a familiar spot of bending over backwards to cater to an aging superstar. However, we’re also talking about one of the greatest players of all-time who is still at his peak of athletic prowess. Kawhi’s bizarre and mysterious injury is off-putting to say the least, and the assets sacrificed would be very significant.
A Lonzo-PG-Ingram-LeBron-Center X lineup feels extremely versatile to me on both ends of the floor, with guys like Kuzma and Hart being able to provide very efficient, inexpensive minutes off the bench.
As blasphemous as this may sound, my ideal scenario would be to pair George and Leonard with this current team. Now whether or not Leonard joins via trade or free-agency of course effects which of the young core is left, but a hypothetical group of Leonard, George, Ball, and possibly one of Ingram/Kuzma makes for a hell of a squad.
James is clearly better than both other options presently, and could in theory be had for free this summer. Yet taking into account his age (33), the window for contention becomes immediately more narrow and could result in one or multiple pieces of the young core being shipped off anyhow to best accommodate a win now agenda.
The duo of George (27) and Leonard (26) both would seemingly fit the time-frame for this team much more cleanly and with good health, could create a more sustainable winning team.
Agree? Disagree? What do you think the Lakers should do? Let us know in the comments below!