The tweet that broke the NBA… At least for a couple hours. It’s true. Kawhi Leonard has demanded a trade away from the San Antonio Spurs; something we couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams years ago.
After playing just nine games this season, after sitting out the Spurs first-round playoff series despite being ruled as healthy by team doctors, and after Gregg Popovich forced his two minions (Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili) to publicly ridicule Leonard in front of the San Antonio media, Kawhi has had it with the Spurs management.
As stated by Adrian Wojnarowski, Kawhi wants to head back home to Los Angeles, but “preferably the Lakers.” Assuming that Kawhi would only re-sign with the Lakers or Clippers how much would he be worth to other teams? And how much would he be worth to those teams?
Kawhi Leonard’s trade value theoretically should look similar to that of Paul George exactly one year ago. Last year, George had one year left on his deal and had told the pacers that he wouldn’t re-sign and that he wanted to play for the Lakers. Sound familiar?
At the time, the Lakers and Celtics were each considering trading their top 5 picks in return for the star forward. With those offers falling through, the Pacers eventually settled for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis from Oklahoma City, significantly lower value than what was expected.
George had said he was only willing to re-sign with the Lakers following the end of the season, so other teams weren’t willing to trade equal value for a one-year rental. Kawhi has put himself in somewhat of a similar situation, as he has requested to be traded to either the of his hometown teams: the Clippers or Lakers.
Lakers Shouldn’t Waste Their Time
The Lakers have the opportunity to completely control this offseason as stated in yesterdays article: https://916kingscourt.com/2018/06/16/lakers-offseason-preview-lebrons-sidekick/. With the cap space to potentially sign two or even three max contracts, the Lakers could go from worst to first in just one year.
Who specifically should the Lakers be interested in? While Kawhi Leonard may have been one of the best players in the world a couple years ago, he was sidelined for almost all of last season with a minor quad injury. Whether you believe Kawhi was faking the injury for attention or not, he still took the entire season off and will certainly appear rusty in the early season.
In order to acquire Leonard, the Lakers need to give up a lot more than money. With the Suns and Kings each experimenting with trading the first or second picks for Leonard, the Lakers will certainly have to give up at least two of their young stars in return for Kawhi. While Lonzo, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma haven’t lead this team to that many wins, their potential is undeniable.
Why would you part ways with any of the three players if you don’t have to? The Lakers have the opportunity to sign Lebron James and Demarcus Cousins without sacrificing any of their future, so yes. In my opinion, the Lakers should avoid trading for the former two-time defensive player of the year.