With the free agent madness looming, Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs moved front and center on Friday afternoon.
According to multiple reports, including Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports and Chris Haynes of ESPN, Kawhi Leonard reportedly wants to leave the Spurs organization.
Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio, league sources tell ESPN.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 15, 2018
Kawhi Leonard wants out from the San Antonio Spurs, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 15, 2018
Considering a pair of unrelated sources tweeted essentially the exact same tweet within seconds of one another, it’s safe to assume this report holds a considerable amount of weight.
Even more promising for the Lakers is that Leonard has Los Angeles and the Lakers as his preferred destination.
San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard has Los Angeles — preferably the Lakers — at the center of his preferences for a trade destination, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 15, 2018
This situation is one that has been brewing for the Spurs and Leonard for quite some time. Earlier this week, it was reported that the Spurs were not listening to offers for Leonard despite the Celtics making a proposal and the Sixers and Lakers inquiries into Leonard’s availability.
A package for Leonard would likely require a good chunk of the Lakers’ young core and would require the Lakers use Luol Deng in the trade as salary ballast. But with the Lakers no longer owing draft picks after this season and sporting a tantalizing young core, it’s hard not to imagine Los Angeles being in one of the driver’s seats for Leonard.
The aforementioned Celtics and Sixers both likely slot in right next to the Lakers but, much like we saw last off-season with George, Leonard has just one year left on his contract and can dictate, to a degree, which teams he’ll go to. If the former Finals MVP wants to go to Los Angeles badly enough, he can threaten teams that he won’t re-sign and force a potential move to Los Angeles.
With free agency upcoming, the Lakers could also make the move for Leonard now and walk into pitch meetings with both LeBron James and Paul George alongside Leonard, making the Lakers all the more tantalizing.