To officially kick off the offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers selected Moritz Wagner (No. 25), Issac Bonga (No. 39), and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (No. 47) at the 2018 NBA Draft. With president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka emphasizing shooting, the Lakers added two of the best at their respective positions.
Although free agency does not begin until July 1, Los Angeles has already been linked to three All-Star forwards in LeBron James, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard.
While James and George are set to become unrestricted free agents, Leonard has one year remaining with the San Antonio Spurs.
As Spurs general manager R.C. Buford is exploring all options, Leonard is putting a lot of pressure on the model franchise. Appearing on ESPN Los Angeles, Stephen A. Smith of First Take says the 26-year-old is adamant about his trade request even if the five-year, $219 million supermax contract extension gets offered:
“From what I am being told…he’s made it very, very clear that he’s looking to go to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers and he does not care about the $219 million super max he could sign.”
– @stephenasmith on Kawhi Leonard
— ESPNLosAngeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) June 23, 2018
Since the initial report, the two-time All-Star has been eyeing his hometown. While San Antonio does not necessarily have to move him now and could even wait until next year’s trade deadline, a small market team should ideally look to get some value in return.
Following the 2018 NBA Draft, the Lakers have all the leverage in potential trade discussions with the Spurs. While a team outside of Los Angeles might be willing to take a risk on a potential one-year rental, Johnson and Pelinka still have the assets to get a Leonard trade completed.
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