The key to getting LeBron James may now be Kawhi Leonard, and the Los Angeles Lakers are going for it.
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Adrian Wojnarowski, and Brian Windhorst, the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs have re-engaged in trade talks centered around Kawhi Leonard.
According to ESPN, the Lakers believe landing Leonard may be the key to getting James in free agency. James is reportedly hesitant to be the first star to go to Los Angeles, and recent reports indicated players like Paul George and Chris Paul might re-sign with their teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets, respectively.
On Wednesday, ESPN reported there was mounting pressure on the Lakers to land Leonard, believing it could help them get James. However, the Spurs had not been open to trade talks with the Lakers, and in general, seemed content to let teams call in with offers, as they figured out how to handle the Leonard situation.
With the Lakers and Spurs now engaging in talks, ESPN reported that the Spurs are hoping to get a package for Leonard that’s greater than what the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers got for Kyrie Irving and George last summer, respectively.
For the Lakers, that could mean trading much of their young core, robbing them of the depth they’d need to put a viable team around Leonard and James. There’s also risk in landing Leonard only to have James choose another team.
Yahoos’ Chris Mannix reported that the Spurs don’t seem to be in any rush to trade Leonard, while the Lakers would like to get a trade done before July 1, when James becomes a free agent. There’s a chance the race gets pushed forward quickly in the coming days if the Lakers become desperate and offer a treasure trove to the Spurs.