The Los Angeles Lakers have opened up their full potential cap space by sending Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones to the Washington Wizards. They now have enough room on their cap sheets to sign any of the top free agents on the market, and appear to have their sights set pretty high.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Kawhi Leonard has found time in his schedule to meet with the Lakers now that they have opened up enough room for him:
“Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard intends to grant the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers meetings when free agency opens on June 30, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
“The meetings would be held in Los Angeles, sources said.
“Leonard, who declined his $21.3 million player option to become an unrestricted free agent, plans to meet with a handful of teams — including the Raptors — before making a decision about his future, sources said.
As was reported previously, Leonard and his camp had their eye on the Lakers just in case something like Thursday’s events transpired and, now that they have, the Lakers will have an opportunity to sell him on the idea of playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Tough sell, really.
Adrian Wojnarowski chimed in with what he knows of the apparent order of these meetings. Like the Lakers with Dwight Howard all those years ago, Toronto would like to get the final say:
Free agent Kawhi Leonard is expected to allow the Toronto Raptors to make the final meeting presentation among the teams visiting with him in Los Angeles next week, league sources tell ESPN. The incumbent often prefers to go last in trying to convince a player to stay with team.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 27, 2019
It’s going to be a busy, fascinating weekend and first week of free agency.
If Leonard is only focused on the situation that gives him the best chance at a championship, the Lakers have a pretty solid argument — especially considering how wide open the NBA appears to be.
We’ve also seen James offer up his vaunted No. 23 jersey to Davis (even if it cost Davis $4 million) next season, so maybe James is still in such a giving mood that he’s willing to work with Leonard on who gets to be the alpha of the team, if something like that is really important to Leonard.
Honestly, no one knows any of this right now, but the fact of the matter is the Lakers now have a legitimate foot in the door — something we couldn’t definitively say just hours ago. This is progress, and if this all ends with Leonard playing alongside James and Davis, then boy, we have to find a fast-forward button to get us to October.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. Here is a list of every free agent credibly connected to the Lakers so far.