When Kawhi Leonard requested a trade from the Spurs, with an intention of joining the Lakers, he did so without knowing where LeBron James would end up. Maybe he could predict the future, or he just wanted to join Los Angeles for off-court benefits. Whatever the reason, his trade request is now more than just joining the Lakers. It would be joining LeBron.
For Lakers fans that have images of Leonard and James together in their dreams, they shouldn't worry about the James signing turning Kawhi away from the Lakers. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Leonard is still adamant about joining him in L.A. Now he can theoretically compete for titles and play in Los Angeles at the same time.
If the Lakers were able to manage a trade for Leonard then, according to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, they would immediately become a contender for 60 wins and would have a 20 percent chance of winning the NBA title. The data assumes that the Lakers trade both Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma in exchange for Leonard, and that they don't re-sign Isaiah Thomas.
|Lakers||Wins||Playoff chances||Conference title||NBA title|
Without LeBron, Kawhi
With LeBron, Kawhi
The Spurs have held strong in not trading Leonard for just any package. They want the best deal available, and there are other teams out there,, who feel they can snag Leonard in a trade.
If the Spurs did relent though, and traded Leonard to the Lakers, then they could get a pretty solid package of young players back. The Lakers are going to be focused on winning as soon as possible. They have no need for that many young players on their roster with James in town. They should be much more willing to move their young assets in exchange for Leonard now that they know they're so close to being a contender.