We could be reaching crunch time in the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes.
Pressure is mounting for the Los Angeles Lakers front office to execute a trade with the San Antonio Spurs for Leonard, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne reported Wednesday, citing league sources.
This report comes as rumors continue to swirl around LeBron James’ future, with ESPN saying “James remains hesitant to be the first superstar to decide on the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.”
League sources told ESPN there’s a race to trade for Leonard before James must decide Friday whether to opt out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and become a free agent. James reportedly wants to make a decision quickly in July free agency.
There’s reportedly also concern that Paul George, currently of the Oklahoma City Thunder, no longer is assured of signing with the Lakers on the open market, adding another layer to Los Angeles’ pursuit of Leonard.
ESPN recently reported the Lakers didn’t have a good initial conversation with the Spurs about Leonard, feeling like San Antonio “shut the door” on them. But league sources told ESPN the Spurs haven’t ruled out trading Leonard to any team — in the Eastern Conference or the Western Conference — and it’s possible Los Angeles could provide the most compelling package if the All-Star forward convinces the rest of the NBA that he’ll only be a one-year rental before signing with the Lakers as a free agent in 2019.
Keep in mind, Leonard won’t come cheap. ESPN speculates the Lakers might need to surrender some combination of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and future first-round picks and perhaps restricted free agent Julius Randle in a sign-and-trade agreement to acquire the almost-27-year-old.
The Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers are among the teams who’ve already made offers to the Spurs for Leonard, league sources told ESPN.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images
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