Now that the dust has settled on “The Decision” volume three and Kawhi Leonard has made it clear to the Spurs organization that he wants to be in Los Angeles, you would think the Spurs and Lakers would be working out a deal for Leonard right? Not so fast…
According to ESPN’s Larry Coon, the asking price is still high for the Lakers to land Leonard and the Spurs demands include Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, two 1st round picks and two pick swaps.
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) July 3, 2018
That does seem high when considering the small amount of leverage the Spurs seemingly have at this point if Leonard is leaving for nothing next year and may not sign long-term anywhere but LA, but the Spurs still have time on their side at this point and are not the organization to get get duped in any trade.
So should the Lakers pay that price for Leonard now when they could sign him in a year without giving up any assets potentially? I still say yes.
The NBA is a fickle and unpredictable beast as we have reaffirmed over the past few days and there is no telling what could change in the next year. Leonard could repair his relationship with the Spurs, he could be dealt elsewhere and like his new surroundings, the Lakers could dissappoint this year even with LeBron and become less desirable or something that we can’t even imagine at this point could transpire between now and next summer.
When you have the chance to pair two top five players in the league who’s games fit alongside one another to become a serious title contender you do it no matter what the cost.
If it means giving up two young players with a lot of potential in Ingram and Kuzma, who play the positions LeBron and Kawhi would play, a backup point guard in Josh Hart, a few pick swaps and possibly adding in a 3rd team to facilitate more appealing draft picks you do it.
Why wait a year to team up LeBron and Leonard when you can do it now?
The Lakers should wait it out until mid-August, but at that time if the Spurs don’t budge they should meet their asking price and fully start their next era of great basketball now.
Here is a sample three-team trade that would work cap wise:
Lakers Receive: Kawhi Leonard, Tyson Chandler, Marquese Chriss, Jared Dudley
Spurs Receive: Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Lakers 2019 1st Round Pick, Suns 2019 1st Round pick (top five protected), Lakers pick swap option in 2020 and 2022
Suns Receive: Lonzo Ball, Luol Deng
This would meet the Spurs demands including a desirable Suns pick in 2019, allow for the Lakers to land Leonard and $26 million in expiring contracts while unloading the final two years of the atrocious Deng deal, and allow the Suns to get their point guard of the future in Lonzo Ball.
That feels like a win-win-win to me.
The Lakers were given another golden (or purple and golden) opportunity to contend for titles again with LeBron’s decision to come to LA, considering he is already 33 and will turn 34 this season, they shouldn’t waste any time giving themselves a chance to contend for title in 2019.