It's no secret that the Boston Celtics and San Antonio have talked about a trade to send Kawhi Leonard to Boston. Leonard reportedly wants to play in Los Angeles, which carries significant weight as his 2019 free agency approaches.
Translation: one of the best two-way players in the National Basketball Association, a California native, one year before becoming an unrestricted free agent, has plans to become a Laker and wants to be traded there now.
According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, Adrian Wojnarowski, and Brian Windhorst, the Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs have reengaged in trade talks centered on Leonard. Nevertheless, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said Thursday that James "reached out to Kevin Durant via text, from what I'm told, about coming to Los Angeles".
The Lakers' attempts to acquire Leonard from the Spurs could prove to be too problematic for the management team of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka.
The Spurs have received trade offers from the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers, according to ESPN, but reports in the past have identified the Lakers as the team Leonard prefers to be dealt to. Lebron James and Paul George are both likely to leave their current situations.
The Spurs have wanted to find a way to fix the franchise's relationship with Leonard, but an overwhelming Lakers offer could convince San Antonio to part with its franchise star, league sources said. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP has demanded to be traded. He played in just nine games this past season because of the quad problem, and questions about whether he could and should have played more strained his relationship with the Spurs. That incentives the Lakers even further - in a way that doesn't apply to Philadelphia - to trade for him.
James has until Friday to opt out of his contract with the Cavs but is expected to become the most coveted player on the market when free agency opens Sunday at midnight ET.
The Lakers are hoping to return to their glory days by building a potential super team via one of the strongest free agent offerings in years.