Remember how the Los Angeles Lakers were reportedly slow-playing their hand with this whole San Antonio Spurs, Kawhi Leonard situation? Well, that was fun.
According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, the two teams are (finally) in the initial stages of trade talks.
The Los Angeles Lakers have reached out to the San Antonio Spurs to express interest in All-Star Kawhi Leonard, league sources tell Yahoo. No proposals have been discussed.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 21, 2018
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN aided what she’s heard of any discussion. It doesn’t sound promising.
Within the last week the Lakers contacted the Spurs to discuss a Kawhi Leonard trade. As one source put it, “they basically shut the door on us.”— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 21, 2018
No players were ever discussed. The conversation never got that far. And it hasn’t continued— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 21, 2018
I previously wrote about how the Lakers were right to slow-play their hand in this respect (and I still feel that way), but with the NBA Draft mere hours away and the assets the Lakers might be able to offer connected to said draft, it does make sense that the two organizations that battle so often over the years in title contention, to meet at a negotiation table.
This also seems like the very earliest stages of any kind of trade negotiation. These things can take form quickly as we saw with the Jimmy Butler trade last year, but given how disinclined the Spurs have reportedly been to send Butler to a hated rival, this might take a little while — if it happens at all.
It’s also worth noting that it’s the Lakers reaching out here and not the other way around. It’s hard to see the Spurs going out of their way to both help Leonard get to his preferred destination and also help the Lakers get their best player since Tim Duncan.
The Lakers reaching out but not putting any kind of offer together is still the right way to play this. The Spurs aren’t going to be very forthright with any kind of information here, but a simple “hey, how’s it coming?” won’t do anyone any harm. Talking pieces specifically at this stage might show their hand and, when dealing with a team as experienced and stable as the Spurs, you can’t ever risk losing any leverage you might have.
I spoke with Quixem Ramirez on today’s episode of the Locked on Lakers podcast. Take a listen below.