LeBron James is the biggest free agent who could be on the move this summer and a Kawhi Leonard trade could end up sealing his fate.
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Adrian Wojnarowski, and Brian Windhorst, the LeBron James stakes could be heavily influenced by a Kawhi Leonard trade to the Los Angeles Lakers. The trio from ESPN is reporting that:
“A deal for Leonard would likely clinch a free agent commitment out of LeBron James.”
This is a big development in James’ free agency speculation and it is likely forcing the Lakers’ hand. They are going to do everything they can to come to an agreement with the Spurs.
It’s clear that Los Angeles is high on LeBron’s list, but there are no guarantees that he goes there. If Magic Johnson can pull off a trade for Leonard, it would go a long way towards proving to LeBron that he can compete with the Golden State Warriors.
Otherwise, James would be coming to a young team that still has a long way to go before they can compete with the likes of Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. But throw Kawhi Leonard into that mix and two of Golden State’s greatest foes would also be occupying sunny California.
But for the Spurs, they know how badly the Lakers want—maybe need—Kawhi. They should hold out for as many assets as possible. It’s almost impossible to acquire equal value when trading a superstar, but they need to squeeze Los Angeles here. Shelburne, Wojnarowski, and Windhorst are reporting that the Spurs want similar compensation to the Paul George and Kyrie Irving trades.
Depending on how desperate the Lakers actually are, they may get even more than that.