San Antonio Spurs: If Kawhi Leonard wants the Lakers, then what?
By Rob Wolkenbrod
Could the San Antonio Spurs be in a bind if the Los Angeles Lakers continue to surface as a free-agent suitor for Kawhi Leonard?
From Ken Berger of Bleacher Report’s extensive piece on Kawhi Leonard’s relationship with the San Antonio Spurs, he noted that the Los Angeles Lakers will shift towards the 2019 free-agent class. Not only that but Leonard “is eyeing” the Lakers next summer through this “front office grapevine,” Berger said.
However one might feel about this rumor, it’s not the first time the Purple and Gold have been connected to Leonard. Sporting News reported the Lakers will target a deal for the San Diego State product this summer, so if what Berger said is the case, the mindset changed over the past month.
So, if anything about the Lakers and Leonard continues to surface, will it hurt San Antonio’s trade leverage?
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If the Silver and Black reach the point where a Leonard deal is inevitable, and the Lakers continue to be mentioned as his top landing spot for the summer of 2019, along with the player’s desire to go there, wouldn’t teams back off? If there’s no hope at a long-term extension, and with a potentially high price to get the former MVP candidate, it does not seem appealing.
It would be a difficult sell to mortgage a team’s young assets for one year of a player, even of Leonard’s caliber, who no one knows how he will return after this mysterious quad ailment. Whether it’s multiple first-round picks, players or a combination of the two, it may not intrigue teams as much, knowing the Lakers linger in the background.
Of course, it’s possible teams would not mind one year of Leonard. It could take someone to the next level, even for a season, and potentially get them an illustrious championship.
All of this depends if Spurs even dangle him this summer, something that’s hardly a given since no trade demand, at least in the public. Heart-to-Heart Talk: The Sequel has yet to take place, either, which can mend the issues between Leonard, Gregg Popovich and other members of the organization.
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As momentum rises for the Lakers, though, will it impact what the Spurs can do? Leonard can go wherever he wants in the summer of 2019, if he does not re-sign this summer with the Spurs or any other team that potentially acquires him. So if Southern California is where he wants to be, what’s the hold-up in one calendar year?