Kawhi Leonard has finally gotten to the point where his relationship with the San Antonio Spurs has reportedly eroded to a point beyond return. So, the question already begs asking: What should the Los Angeles Lakers feel comfortable offering in a trade for one the league’s absolute best two-way players?
Reports came in from throughout national NBA coverage, and Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express News had it first.
And here we go... sources tell @ExpressNews that Kawhi Leonard wants to be traded from #Spurs ... more to come...— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) June 15, 2018
From there, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports joined the fun, along with ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
Leonard has grown uncomfortable with the Spurs and is ready for move, league sources tell Yahoo. https://t.co/uTux1nZYHV— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 15, 2018
Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio, league sources tell ESPN.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 15, 2018
This is going to get really interesting, really quickly. Very few teams have the assets to make a legitimate run at Leonard and that’s before we get into any kind of preferred destination.
Which brings us to the Lakers. Leonard’s gripe has seemed to stem from frustration about his brand not being bigger.
OH HAI WOJ.
San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard has Los Angeles — preferably the Lakers — at the center of his preferences for a trade destination, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 15, 2018
As I was saying, the Lakers makes sense if he is frustrated about not being a larger brand presence given his status as one of the league’s elite players. Say what you will about markets becoming more equal over the last few years, but no team across the NBA can offer a boost in marketing the way the Lakers can.
Combine that with Leonard being from southern California and his request makes sense.
So, what do the Lakers give up?
In a vacuum, the Lakers would have to worry about giving up too much of the young core, given how valuable the player the Spurs would be giving up is.
Fortunately, now that Kawhi has made it known that he prefers the Lakers (though he has almost no say in things at this point), they gain a little leverage in that the rest of the league may be more hesitant to trade for him.
If they manage to pull off a trade without giving up too much, that’s the kind of thing they can sit at the sales pitch table with LeBron James and convince him Los Angeles is really the place to be. And make no mistake about it, a team with LeBron and Kawhi on the wings, along with the role players that will want to hop on the team for the pursuit of a title can absolutely challenge just about any team in the league, potentially even the Golden State Warriors.
This summer just got a lot more interesting.