As the Los Angeles Lakers try to re-enter the NBA elite in this massively important offseason, the linchpin appears to be acquiring Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs in order to entice LeBron James and Paul George.
The Lakers can land both James and George in free agency, thanks to George opting out of his deal with Oklahoma City and James possibly about to do the same with Cleveland. However, Leonard is a different story. The Spurs still control Leonard for next season, and even though the 27-year-old reportedly want to team up with James, his team isn’t exactly thrilled about building a rival super-team unless it gets plenty of assets back.
The Lakers have been planning for something like this for a while, stockpiling young assets during their full rebuild. Unfortunately, it appears the Spurs want no part in one of the Lakers’ most significant assets, according to this report from Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.
The question now is whether the Lakers even have enough to convince the San Antonio Spurs to send Leonard there. With San Antonio believed to be uninterested in Lonzo Ball, the Lakers have three other intriguing young players — Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart — plus their future first-round picks to include in a deal.
That seems a little odd. Ball’s rookie season wasn’t a massive success, at least not for a No. 2 overall pick, but he still holds plenty of upside. However, there is one very big elephant in the room when it comes to Ball’s value.
Could the Spurs want no part in LaVar Ball?
Last seen watching his middle child LiAngelo go undrafted last week, LaVar Ball still exists and could very much be a problem for the Spurs in trade talks. The outspoken father has already thrown out a preemptive salvo against the idea of the Lakers trading Lonzo and has often criticized the organization for how it’s handling his progeny. Imagine how loud he would be with a franchise that he didn’t already want his children to play on.
This could be a very small part of the Spurs assessment of Lonzo—they might simply have qualms with his jump shot and athleticism—but it probably isn’t nothing to an organization that has been the league’s picture of stability in the last decade, Kawhi trade demands aside.
What else the Lakers can offer for Kawhi Leonard
Even without Ball, a package of Ingram, Kuzma, Hart and some first-round picks is definitely a competitive offer for a single year of Leonard. Per Bontemps’ report, the Lakers are also considering a swap with the Denver Nuggets that would see Los Angeles receive some bad contracts in return for a pick.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, even that might not be enough when compared to its competition for Leonard’s talents. The Celtics are loaded in young assets like Jaylen Brown, while the Sixers could go for a combo starting with Dario Saric and Robert Covington. Outbidding the Lakers becomes even easier for both those teams if the Spurs don’t see Ball as someone they want to acquire.
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