The Los Angeles Lakers are at the top of the list of teams Kawhi Leonard wants the San Antonio Spurs to trade him to. This much is known, but what has been mostly unknown is how willing the Spurs will be to acquiesce to his demands.
In the wake of Leonard’s trade demand leaking, there were rumors the Spurs wouldn’t want to trade him to Los Angeles and definitely wouldn’t want Lonzo Ball as a part of any trade package the Lakers would offer them.
Marc Stein of the New York Times — who is as plugged in as anyone in the league — confirmed that report during an appearance on ESPN Los Angeles. He also made it clear that the Spurs aren’t unreasonable, and that despite not wanting to go out of their way to give Leonard the trade to the Lakers that he wants, they are willing to do so if it’s what nets them the best return:
“They clearly do not want to do business with the Lakers but if the Lakers could assembly the best deal…if the Lakers could use their assets to bring in a 3rd team & San Antonio gets the most out of a trade from the Lakers…they would do it.”— ESPNLosAngeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) June 18, 2018
- @TheSteinLine on the Spurs
This is good news for the Lakers, and wasn’t made clear in earlier reports on the situation. The Spurs not wanting to trade Leonard to the Lakers is understandable, but this would seem to confirm that cooler heads are prevailing, and the Spurs won’t just take a worse return simply to spite Leonard and his management.
The Lakers might be able to create that deal, either with a third team like Stein says, or by simply offering a few of their young players or future first round picks. The Boston Celtics and their treasure trove of young players plus their coffers stacked with extra first round picks might be able to top the Lakers’ best offer, but it’s unclear how much the Celtics are actually willing to put on the table for Leonard as of now.
The Lakers also don’t sound like they’re going to rush into any Leonard deal without knowing all the information about his nebulous current injury situation, but this news confirms that there will be trade talks to be had if both sides decide they can get good value by dealing with each other, and that the Spurs aren’t going to let emotion cloud their decision-making like some other teams with stars making trade demands over the past year.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.