It was always clear that the San Antonio Spurs were going to ask for an insane haul if they were going to send Kawhi Leonard to his preferred trade destination of the Los Angeles Lakers. Still, it always logically seemed like they’d eventually have to settle for a package built around either Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma, but almost certainly not both.
However, according to Larry Coon (The CBA FAQ Godfather and about as plugged-in of an individual as there is around the NBA) during an appearance on Spectrum Sportsnet, the Spurs are asking for a lot more than just Kuzma or Ingram:
“From what I hear they’re asking a lot. My sources are saying Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, two firsts and two pick swaps... They’re just saying give us everything.”
That price wouldn’t sound so insane if Leonard hadn’t just demanded a trade, had more than one year left on his deal and wasn’t coming off of a season that saw him miss nearly every single one of the Spurs’ games, but unfortunately for the Spurs, none of those things are the case.
It’s understandable that the Spurs want a lot in any theoretical deal for Leonard. He’s their franchise player, and the fact that he wants to go to the Lakers probably makes them want to dig in and ask for more for Leonard.
All that said, none of what the Spurs want really matters here. The Lakers have done an expert job of clearing cap space for next summer, and they’ve gotten to the point where they can sign Leonard outright, allowing them to counter this reported Spurs offer with an offer of their own: You can give us Leonard for something reasonable, or you can lose him for nothing when we sign him next offseason.
The Lakers probably learned from the Paul George situation last summer that waiting for free agency for a player demanding a trade to their hometown isn’t a guarantee you’ll get said superstar. Armed with that lesson, they likely know that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and that they should be willing to give up something for Leonard.
However, giving up something is a lot different from giving up almost everything for a player the Lakers can sign in a year anyway. If the Spurs are being this unreasonable, the Lakers shouldn’t meet their price. Asking for something doesn’t mean the Spurs actually expect to get it, so it’s also totally possible that they’re just asking for a lot and expecting the Lakers to counter with less as a negotiating tactic.
But if the Spurs actually do expect this type of haul? Then the Lakers are just going to have to take a step back and let this situation play out for a bit.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.