Lakers "Racing" To Acquire Kawhi Leonard Before Friday


The Lakers were long seen as a destination this summer for James and Paul George, but it no longer seems to be a sure bet that George opts out of his contract with the Thunder by Friday.

Despite rumors of Leonard wanting to play for his hometown team, as well as reports that James wants to head to L.A., the "First Take" co-host believes the tandem would be best suited with the San Antonio Spurs. It means the Celtics would have to include a group of players just to fit Leonard's $20.1 million 2018-19 salary into the team. However, Sean Deveney of Sporting News painted a different picture on Wednesday morning, reporting the "league executives aren't so sure" the Lakers must acquire top-end talent from outside the organization before James arrives.

LeBron James (23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kawhi Leonard (2) of the San Antonio Spurs fight for position during a game on March 27, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.

For the Lakers, it's a dicey position, offering some of their young core players and future draft picks, knowing it would rid them of their depth if they do land a super-team or harm their future if they land Leonard, but not George or James. But if Leonard is set on going to Los Angeles next year, Ainge probably won't want to part with much, and would likely be unwilling to give up Jaylen Brown, who was one of Boston's most reliable players in just his second National Basketball Association season. George had only one season remaining on his deal when the Pacers traded him last summer.

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Don't expect the Spurs to panic trade Leonard like the Cavaliers did with Kyrie Irving. The agent reasoned that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich only wants to compete for championships, and keeping Leonard helps him accomplish that, regardless of Leonard's wishes. No team talking with the Spurs about Leonard has found them to be in a rush to make a deal.

The Celtics have reportedly made another offer for Kawhi Leonard. Free agency is days away, and reports suggest James wants to make his free agency decision quickly.

Cleveland has also been linked to George, as well as All-Star point guard Chris Paul, although like the rest of the league, appears to be in a holding pattern until James makes his free agency decision.