NBA free agency doesn’t officially begin till June 30, 6 PM Eastern Time, that didn’t stop the Los Angeles Lakers from putting themselves in prime position to lure big-name free agents to La La Land. Over the weekend the LeBron James-led Lakers finally were able to convince the New Orleans Pelicans to pull the trigger on an Anthony Davis trade sending the team Davis in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and numerous first round picks. Now reports are indicating the organization has its sights on Kawhi Leonard.
Saturday (June 15) The Ringer’s Kevin Conner reported the Lakers will pursue Leonard who is fresh off slaying another dynasty by leading the Toronto Raptors to its first championship after defeating the Golden State Warriors. In doing so, he proved that his lingering quad issues are a thing of the past and proved he can lead a team to a championship establishing that he is indeed worthy of a max contract. If he so chooses to leave, Raptors fans won’t hold it against being that he took them to the promised land.
For some time now the Clippers—not the Lakers— were the front runners to land the two-way player due to the fact they have more money to throw at the superstar. Leonard is from is Los Angeles, so the idea of returning home also played a factor. But with the Lakers landing Anthony Davis, the concept of Kawhi teaming up alongside LeBron and the versatile big man might intrigue Kawhi. It also helps that Leonard’s cousin and sister are onboard with the Klaw’s return to LA.
But there is one significant issue though, by pulling the trigger so early on the trade and making it official on July 6th, which is the end of the moratorium Davis money will go on the Lakers books immediately leaving team only $27.7M in cap room. On top of that, he also has a $4 million trade bonus and if he doesn’t decide to waive that the Lakers will also have to take that on their books taking that down to $23.7M. If they waited 30 days till July 1 when free agency begins they could have had the full $32.5M of salary because AD’s money wouldn’t technically be on their books. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, there is still a chance the deal could be amended to July 30.
Now, if Kawhi is willing to take a pay cut, then the Lakers are looking very attractive, but that is a huge IF. Leonard isn’t the only superstar the team has it eyes on, upcoming free agents Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler and rumored soon to be Brooklyn Net Kyrie Irving are other names being thrown around. They are all looking for big paydays as well so the lure of just teaming up with LeBron James in LA might not be enough.
Turn on those notifications, the Woj bombs are gonna be dropping real soon.