2018 NBA Trade Rumors: Lakers seeking first-round pick in salary dump, negotiating with Nuggets

NBA: All Star Game-Eastern at Western
Feb 19, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Western Conference forward Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs (2) drives to the basket against Eastern Conference guard DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptoers (10) and Eastern Conference forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (23) in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Update: According to Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post, the Lakers have had discussions with the Denver Nuggets on the subject of a salary dump. The Lakers would receive one of the Nuggets contracts along with a first-round pick. The pick could theoretically be used as a sweetener in a trade for Spurs star Kawhi Leonard.

From Bontemps:

In an attempt to sweeten the pot, multiple sources said the Lakers and Denver Nuggets are discussing a potential deal that would see Los Angeles take back bad money for a draft pick. The Nuggets, who will be deep into the luxury tax after re-signing restricted free agent center Nikola Jokic next month, have about $34 million in expiring contracts for Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur and Wilson Chandler to send out in possible deals.

Original Story Follows:

With the Los Angeles Lakers in search of landing multiple max-level free agents and reworking the roster this summer, the possibility of trading for Kawhi Leonard has quickly arisen and flourished into a real possibility.

Leonard, who missed the near majority of last season with the San Antonio Spurs, fell out with the Spurs front office and coaching staff and has demanded a trade with the Lakers being his preferred destination.

With multiple moving parts set to be put in motion on Saturday at the start of free agency, one scenario could see the Lakers trade for Leonard in hopes of luring LeBron James to Los Angeles.

In that regard, the Lakers have reportedly been looking to take on salaries in 2018-19 along with a first-round pick in order to use said pick to sweeten the pot for the Spurs.

The likelihood of the Lakers finding a salary dump situation that results in them acquiring a pick and little long-term salary is slim, but it leads to some interesting questions.

For one, the status of Paul George certainly is in doubt given this rumor, at least. With reports stating that George is leaning closer to returning to Oklahoma City and re-upping with the Thunder, the Lakers may consider it a real possibility and could be looking at a different path to acquire two superstars.

The report also could be taken with a grain of salt. It could be coming from James’ camp in hopes of the Lakers moving for Leonard who, when healthy, is a star level player. It could be coming from the Spurs, who have limited leverage in the trade negotiations and could be looking for leverage in many ways.

Most likely, though, is that the Lakers are doing due diligence and are ready for any scenario to play out once free agency starts. With the team so intent on acquiring stars, the Lakers are clearly not putting all their eggs in one basket with either James or George and are making contingency plans otherwise.

Either way, it sets up what will likely be a fascinating week of free agency in the near future.

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