REPORT: ESPN Spurs reporter Michael Wright says Kawhi Leonard prefers Clippers over Lakers
A number of teams around the league are quietly in hot pursuit of San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard as the forward’s camp continues to express his wanting to be traded before the season starts. Several days ago, Yahoo Sports’ NBA insider Shams Charania expressed his thoughts on Leonard’s situation and preferred landing spot, saying that he thinks the 2014 NBA Finals MVP could be more open to joining the LA Clippers now that the Los Angeles Lakers have added LeBron James to their team.
On Thursday morning, ESPN’s Michael C. Wright made a guest appearance on the Back to Back podcast, and among the things discussed in Thursday’s episode was Kawhi Leonard’s future. According to Wright, Leonard is favoring the Clippers over the Lakers as a potential landing spot. The only problem is, the Spurs apparently don’t like the Clippers potential trade pieces… At all.
Here’s what Wright had to say, as heard through and transcribed by Def Pen:
Tom Haberstroh: So which team does Kawhi suit up for next year? Who do you think is the leader in the clubhouse to get his services?
Michael Wright: Well, contrary to, and I don’t know if it’s changed. I think that’s what happened. Things have changed. But the Lakers are not Kawhi’s preferred destination anymore. He wants to go to the Clippers. He doesn’t want to go and be second fiddle to LeBron. That’s what I was told. And it was by somebody that would know. And so right now, the Clippers are where he wants to go. But I’m also told, like you know, I talked to people within the Spurs organization and they’re like, ‘well yeah he wants to go to the Clippers, but their assets are shit at this point.’ That’s what I was told.
Over the last couple of weeks, names that have been thrown around as pieces the Spurs want from the Lakers include Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, and a number of draft picks. So far, they’ve had no interest in point guard Lonzo Ball. It’s unclear what the Spurs would ask of the Clippers, but a combination of Tobias Harris, Patrick Beverley, and either/both of their 2018 NBA Draft picks seems to be a package that could match the Lakers’. Unfortunately, that’s too much for either side to give up for Leonard, who is reportedly dead set on his future residing in Los Angeles.
Wright: The Spurs demands on a trade are just… I wouldn’t say unrealistic but teams are not gonna do that deal right now. They’re just not.
I’ve been told like the Lakers are saying, ‘Hey, we really want to do this deal, but we ain’t crazy. We can’t give you all that.’
After discussing a number of potential trade scenarios and pieces that both LA teams would have to offer, Wright closed the topic by saying that he was told Leonard simply wants to be in LA.
Wright: Now he wants to be a Clipper, first he wants to go to LA… He just wants to be in LA. That’s what I was told. He just wants to be in LA.
As the offseason progresses and we get closer to the regular season, talks between the Spurs and other teams are sure to heat up. San Antonio prefers to remain competitive after trading Leonard, which means they’re going to want a big package for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year. However, all signs point to them being incredibly patient as they seek out the right trade package.