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NBA Trade Rumors: Lakers were told they didn’t need to trade for Kawhi Leonard to sign LeBron James in free agency

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It sounds like LeBron James was pulling strings behind the scenes to ensure the Lakers get Kawhi Leonard at the right price.

San Antonio Spurs v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

By several reports now, LeBron James made his decision to commit to the Los Angeles Lakers well before it was finally announced. A superstar of James’ stature typically operates like this, and given his propensity for offering his two cents regarding how a roster should be put together, it should surprise no one that he would want the Lakers to be best setup for his arrival.

The Lakers are in the midst of what have to be contentious trade negotiations with the San Antonio Spurs, who are doing whatever they can to create any leverage by any means. In quite the impressive move, LeBron seemed to get out ahead of those efforts, according to Brian Windhorst during an appearance on Zach Lowe’s “The Lowe Post.”

“I do think a period of days ago … the Lakers were unsure about whether they needed to get Kawhi or not. There was period where they were like ‘boy do we need to do this to try to figure out whether this quote, unquote closes the LeBron deal?’ and I think they investigated it. And they basically got the word, ’No, that’s not true. LeBron’s prepared either way … and that’s when the talks backed way off.”

One reading of this situation is that the Lakers really felt as if they needed to move pieces for Kawhi after the Spurs made them think such a move was the only way to guarantee that James would commit.

When James’ representatives made it known that wasn’t the case, the leverage swung back in the Lakers’ favor, allowing them to hold onto as many assets as possible to either surround LeBron with or send out to land him more immediate help.

Windhorst continued, though it should be pointed out this felt a little more speculative.

I knew LeBron’s decision was going to come quick and had the Lakers had the feel that they had to get Kawhi, we would’ve been aware. Because the tremors out there in the league would have been huge about the deal that would potentially be coming, and it was quiet.

LeBron wields tremendous power across the NBA. It’s pretty great to see him using that leverage so as to improve the situation with the Lakers before he even commits. Hopefully, a trade for Leonard can be consummated and for a decent price. If so, the Lakers might have James himself to thank.