The San Antonio Spurs might be coming to grips with the reality of the situation: Kawhi Leonard isn’t happy, and the damage doesn’t sound like it can be repaired in time to convince him to stick around. Still, the Los Angeles Lakers are slow-playing their hand, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Spurs are willing listeners on Kawhi Leonard trade proposals, but haven't been proactive in chasing down offers, league sources tell ESPN. For now, make an offer and they'll add it to their board. Spurs and Lakers have had no dialogue on Leonard.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 21, 2018
This is interesting on a few levels.
First and most obviously as I stated earlier, San Antonio listening to trade talks means they might have finally read the writing on the wall. If they were still holding steadfast to their initial reported policy of not listening to trade offers on Leonard, it would signal a continued confidence that he might rethink his stance. Now, it seems as if that confidence might be wavering, opening the door for opportunistic teams.
How the Lakers are playing this is also worth noting.
Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka might be operating from a point of strength here and, as such, can wait for the Spurs to continue to be disappointed with trade offers from teams unlikely to re-sign Leonard when his contract is up next summer.
There’s no need to show their hand early and risk either frustrating the Spurs front office with an offer they deem disrespectful or make an offer of too many assets that the Spurs might agree to too early in this process. If you’re the Lakers, you do not want an offer to be accepted too quickly, as that would mean a lesser offer might also have gotten it done.
Making the Spurs sweat out a situation they’ve never encountered before might be frustrating for fans who just want to see Leonard in a Lakers uniform, but San Antonio’s leverage weakens the longer this goes on. We are still yet to hear definitively that Leonard has notified all other non-Los-Angeles teams that he absolutely won’t re-sign. When/if that happens, the Lakers can come in with a well-below-market-value offer, so they’re better off waiting for that development at the very least.
Still, this progress — albeit as small as it might seem — is a good sign for the Lakers or any other team hoping to pry Leonard from San Antonio.