Spurs Reverse Course & Are Now Open To Trading Kawhi Leonard To Lakers


ESPN reported Wednesday the pressure for L.A.to lock down Leonard is growing, but San Antonio is not in any rush to secure a deal before the trade deadline in February 2019.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst, the "pressure is mounting" for the Lakers to pull off a trade with the San Antonio Spurs for All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard.

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That wasn't the only piece of information included in the report, though, as league sources also told ESPN the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers are among the teams who've made offers to the Spurs for Leonard. If Los Angeles and San Antonio can agree on a trade, it could greatly increase the chances of James choosing to become a free agent and signing a deal with the Lakers.

For the Spurs, however, it might be a massive win.

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A trade would nullify that, but Leonard reportedly is not anxious about the financial implications. Leonard has one year remaining on his contract and is eligible for the five-year, $219 million supermax extension.

But if a team like the Lakers is desperate to land Leonard, then it could help the Spurs. That could drive up the price for Leonard, an unusual scenario for a player so close to free agency (and coming off an injury that cost him 73 games last season). The agent reasoned that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich only wants to compete for championships, and keeping Leonard helps him accomplish that, regardless of Leonard's wishes.

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James will have to make his decision to opt out of his contract by June 29. That would allow them room for only one maximum salary slot this summer, meaning they would be unable to sign both George and four-time MVP LeBron James, whose 2018 free agency has been tied to Los Angeles. If not, they presumably would need to part with significantly more assets in order to acquire Leonard.