Smith: Kawhi Leonard Might Sit Out Next Season If He's Not Traded

Heather Diaz
July 3, 2018

And at the center of their pitch is a strong belief the franchise can trade for San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, according to The New York Times' Marc Stein.

The Lakers missed the postseason a year ago, but that would quickly be forgotten by adding both James and Leonard.

James has bolted as a free agent twice - in 2010, when his contract was up with Cleveland and he chose the Miami Heat, and in 2014, when he exercised the early termination option in his Heat contract and returned to Cleveland.

Of course, someone is probably going to have to make the first move. According to ESPN, the Spurs are asking for a huge package in return for Leonard.

James then carried the Cavs, with their flawed roster after a massive trade-deadline turnover, through the Eastern Conference playoffs - they survived two Game 7s and swept the top-seeded Toronto Raptors - to the National Basketball Association finals for a fourth straight showdown with the Golden State Warriors.

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Whether Philly has the assets to acquire Leonard is up for debate.

Zayas emphasizes how Lonzo, as a non-ball-dominant playmaker, would benefit from James by getting to work more as a screener, cutter and lob-catcher and less as a pick-and-roll guard-a role in which he often struggled as a rookie.

On the other hand, there's a danger in not striking while the iron is hot.

Leonard wanted to move back to his hometown even before James settled on his future but the 33-year-old's decision will undoubtedly have convinced the Spurs ace that he can potentially win more rings if he moves to LA. Maybe James doesn't come, and the Lakers have to settle for Plan B. And what if Leonard becomes smitten with wherever he's traded and decides to re-sign there next season? Oklahoma City's Paul George, another major free agent-get, has already declared himself to be on the open market. Spurs teammates questioned the severity of the injury as Leonard's absence continued after the team had cleared him medically.

James has until Friday night to opt out of his contract with the Cavaliers.

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