Report: Lakers “know they can get” Kawhi Leonard in 2019

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers
Feb 26, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (14) passes against San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) in the first quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard’s relationship with the San Antonio Spurs has been a topic of conversation all season. The rife that has reportedly grown between Leonard and Spurs management has made the All-Star forward’s future in San Antonio murky and teams are already lining up plans to sign or trade for the star.

That will not be changing anytime soon and where there’s smoke, there’s usually a low-burning purple and gold fire. The Los Angeles Lakers have recently been linked to Leonard, a Southern California native who reportedly has dreams of playing in a bigger market and securing bigger endorsements as a result.

The Lakers have multiple options. Their plan has been steadfast in attempting to sign multiple star free agents in 2018 but there has also been talk of the team pushing some, if not all, of its cap space to 2019 when stars like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson (if he does not sign a reported extension) could all be available.

According to Bleacher Report’s Ken Berger (h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll), the Lakers are eyeing that situation carefully and one anonymous executive believes the organization is confident in its ability to sign the former Defensive Player of the Year:

It’s commonly heard on the front office grapevine that Leonard is eyeing the Lakers as a free agent in 2019. One of the Western Conference executives noted it’s no accident that the Lakers reportedly have shifted their free-agent plans to focus on the ’19 class (which Leonard may headline), according to Shelburne and ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski, as opposed to a quick fix this summer.

“That’s why [the Lakers] are spinning it into ‘wait till next year,'” the executive said. “They know they can get Kawhi.”

Of course, a lot can change in one year. The Lakers felt confident in being able to sign Paul George a year ago and held onto their assets rather than trading for the star. George was then traded to Oklahoma City where his season ended poorly but his decision is murkier.

The Lakers theoretically have the assets to trade for Leonard if the Spurs are interested (Berger reports that they are currently rejecting trade offers). It is a matter of how much the Lakers would be willing to give up for a star player heading towards free agency with a questionable and mysterious injury.

It’s not an easy decision for the Lakers and an even more difficult one for the Spurs who are hoping Leonard’s relationship with the organization can be mended. Either way, this could be the set-up for a crazy offseason and potentially even more rumors surrounding Leonard, the Spurs and the Lakers for the foreseeable future.

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