The Los Angeles Lakers have insurmountable pressure ahead of this free agency period, now counting with only two days to find a way to acquire Kawhi Leonard before LeBron James makes his impending free agent decision, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Brian Windhorst, and Ramona Shelburne.
James will have to make his decision to opt out of his contract by June 29.
The Lakers front office is expected to be massively aggressive in pursuing this trade with the San Antonio Spurs, fishing for a future first-round pick to sweeten up the deal for the Spurs, who have reportedly no interest in helping the Lakers or any other Western Conference team.
“The price for Leonard would be substantial. The Lakers could have to surrender a combination of former first-round picks — from Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart — and future first-round picks and perhaps restricted free agent Julius Randle in a sign-and-trade agreement.
The Lakers have been hunting a future first-round draft pick on the trade market in recent days, league sources said. That pick could be used to sweeten a prospective trade opportunity.”
Leonard is viewed as the potential honey pot to lure the bee that is James, as The King is unlikely to go anywhere without a big-time player having committed to join the Lakers.
It’s widely believed that James’ options are merely two — the Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the need for a commitment from Leonard (via trade) or Paul George (via free agency) would be an absolute must before he chooses to sign with a different team.
George has raised recent suspicions of staying with the Thunder after growing a relationship with fellow star Russell Westbrook, which poses a problem for the Lakers’ offseason plans.
The Cavs, though not great, are still home and could be a comfortable stay for another year at $35-plus million until the next offseason.