Published: Sat, June 30, 2018
Sports | By Sarah Myers

Los Angeles Lakers under pressure to pull off Kawhi Leonard trade

Los Angeles Lakers under pressure to pull off Kawhi Leonard trade

Speaking publicly last week for the first time since Kawhi Leonard requested a trade, San Antonio Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said the team's number one option was to keep the player and look to fix their relationship with him.

As Stein implied, the Spurs have shown hesitance to shop Kawhi to Los Angeles, which is rumored to be his preferred destination.

The tweet below plays off the injury tag Leonard had next to his name this season (return from injury management).

But joining the Lakers remains the most likely Leonard move with the bookmakers, suggesting the two franchises will come to an agreement instead of having the deal hijacked by the LA Clippers, Boston Celtics or Philadelphia 76ers. Both teams have a bevy of assets they could offer in exchange for Kawhi, should they decide to pursue him.

The most recent report surrounding Leonard and his camp was that he reached out to National Basketball Association superstar LeBron James in an effort to play alongside him.

As Schultz mentions, they noted Kawhi's defensive abilities, which will allow LeBron to conserve more energy for the other end of the floor. 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.

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. "It's a step forward for the Lakers".

Leonard, meanwhile, is set to hit free agency next year, at which point there's no guarantee that he'll stay with the team that trades for him.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich likely wants nothing to do with LaVar Ball and has spoken out about his involvement with Lonzo's career.

However, the Lakers also have some compelling pieces, and a trade seems far riskier for the Celtics, who already look like a legitimate championship contender without Leonard.

For all the latest on James' free agency, follow our LeBron James 2018 free agency rumor tracker.

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