The pressure is on the Los Angeles Lakers to acquire a star player, as LeBron James is before another star is also on board. With LeBron's opt-out decision just hours away, the Lakers are reportedly aggressively pursuing San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who requested a trade earlier this month with the Lakers as his top destination.
Previous information indicated that the Spurs had shut down their initial trade talks with the Lakers, and further reports surfaced saying that San Antonio wouldn't even trade Leonard to a Western Conference team. But according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst, the Lakers and Spurs re-engaged in trade talks Wednesday, and the outcome will have massive implications. Via ESPN:
The stakes on these talks are enormous, because a deal for Leonard would likely clinch a free agent commitment out of LeBron James. James has until late Friday night to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and is watching closely how the Lakers proceed with the Leonard talks.
The Spurs have wanted to find a way to repair the franchise's relationship with Leonard, but an overwhelming Lakers offer could convince San Antonio to part with its franchise star, league sources said.
Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times confirmed the discussions, adding that the call was "productive."
ESPN reports that the Spurs want more than the Cavs got for Kyrie Irving and more than the Pacers got for Paul George in the potential deal. San Antonio is reportedly seeking young players and draft picks.
George was generally the superstar attached to LeBron for a potential Lakers tandem, but when Leonard requested out of San Antonio, his name was thrown squarely into the mix. The possibility of a LeBron-Kawhi-Paul George superteam is also still on the table, but it would require both George and James opting out of their contracts before Friday's midnight ET deadline.
We don't know what LeBron is going to do, but we know that acquiring Kawhi will make the Lakers a much more attractive destination for The King.