The Los Angeles Lakers might have missed out on signing Paul George, but they’re still considered heavy favorites to land LeBron James. As for Kawhi Leonard, who they have been linked to in recent weeks, trade talks have reportedly cooled down ... for now.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers are holding out on re-engaging the San Antonio Spurs about Leonard until more dominoes start to fall in free agency.
“The Lakers have not been really aggressive in the last few days with San Antonio,” Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s “The Jump” free agency special, adding that the Spurs have “a high threshold” for what they want and are willing to walk away if they don’t get it.
Later, on Sportscenter, Wojnarowski gave more details on the status of the talks.
“The Lakers still believe that they can recruit LeBron James there and keep the assets they have. Young players, draft picks and either get Kawhi Leonard in free agency next year or get the Spurs to lower their asking price. There is a little bit of a game of chicken going on,” Wojnarowski said.
If the Lakers’ brass can miraculously sell James on winning with the current roster, the Spurs lose the little leverage they had in trade talks. However, there’s reportedly another team in Los Angeles still hoping to peak R.C. Buford’s interest with their offer for Leonard — the Clippers.
ESPN Sources: Los Angeles Clippers haven’t abandoned pursuit of acquiring San Antonio Spurs’ All-Star Kawhi Leonard. He remains a high offseason priority for LAC.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 1, 2018
On draft night, one could have made the argument that the Clippers could outbid the Lakers in trade talks with two lottery picks, one or two valuable veterans on team-friendly contracts and Jerry West. But since the Clippers made the selections themselves, it’s unclear how much the Spurs’ front office values the players they picked.
That’s not to say the Clippers should be completely ruled out as a destination for Leonard, but they were certainly in a much better position just a week ago.
When the dust starts to settle a few weeks from now, the Spurs will likely re-visit trade proposals for Leonard. Until then, both the Clippers and the Lakers will have to shift their focus to building their team through free agency.