The Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers both have a talented young core to build around for future success, but each franchise lacks a superstar veteran to take it to the next level.
Could San Antonio Spurs forward and 2014 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard be that player for the Lakers or 76ers?
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that both teams have interest in acquiring Leonard via trade.
“The Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers have interest in Leonard, each with a differing array of young assets to trade for him now and the potential of salary-cap space to sign Leonard outright in 2019,” Wojnarowski wrote.
Leonard is able to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019 if he declines his player option for the 2019-20 season. His relationship with the Spurs this season had its ups and downs, stemming from a quad injury that kept him out of all but nine games. If Leonard cannot rebuild his relationship with the Spurs, trading him for a package of young players and/or draft picks would be better for San Antonio than risking him leaving as a free agent for nothing.
The Lakers have Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma as talented young players to dangle on the trade market. They also own all of their first-round picks beginning in 2019.
The 76ers have Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz, Robert Covington and the No. 10 pick in this month’s draft to offer — it’s hard to imagine Philly ever putting Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons on the table.
If Leonard was on the trade block, you can bet the Lakers and 76ers wouldn’t be the only teams with interest. Wojnarowksi also reported the Boston Celtics made an offer for Leonard before last season’s trade deadline, but the C’s were rejected.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports