The Los Angeles Lakers have ramped up their efforts to acquire San Antonio Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard over the past 24 hours, with reports indicating that Los Angeles believes bringing Leonard in will help persuade LeBron James to take his talents to Southern California.
It’s already been reported that the Lakers are willing to part with forward Brandon Ingram in a deal for Leonard, but there’s one player who probably won’t be headed to San Antonio: Lonzo Ball. It’s not necessarily that the Lakers wouldn’t trade him, but rather that the Spurs are reportedly uninterested in the 20-year-old point guard. From Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post:
The question now is whether the Lakers even have enough to convince the San Antonio Spurs to send Leonard there. With San Antonio believed to be uninterested in Lonzo Ball, the Lakers have three other intriguing young players — Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart — plus their future first-round picks to include in a deal.
Ball had an up-and-down rookie year, but most feel he’s still on track to be an impact player, maybe even an All-Star if his shooting improves. Traditionally the Spurs have been very specific about the type of players they want, however, and apparently Ball doesn’t fit the bill.
According to Bontemps, the Lakers are also trying to acquire a first-round pick from the Denver Nuggets to help make their offer to San Antonio more attractive. They’re reportedly willing to take on a bloated contract as well.
In an attempt to sweeten the pot, multiple sources said the Lakers and Denver Nuggets are discussing a potential deal that would see Los Angeles take back bad money for a draft pick. The Nuggets, who will be deep into the luxury tax after re-signing restricted free agent center Nikola Jokic next month, have about $34 million in expiring contracts for Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur and Wilson Chandler to send out in possible deals.
The Lakers clearly feel that a Leonard-James frontcourt would be a game-changer for the franchise, and it looks like they’re willing to sacrifice young prospects and take on bad contracts to make it happen.