Lakers Rumors: Team knows they can sign Kawhi Leonard in 2019

(Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Recent Los Angeles Lakers rumors involve Kawhi Leonard, who the team is reportedly confident they can sign in 2019.

Los Angeles Lakers rumors have begun picking up as their offseason preparations have begun. The Lakers have already begun holding workouts for prospects. Los Angeles has two draft picks this year, No. 25 and No. 47.

Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka will look to strike again later in the draft. Last year, they landed Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart with the No. 27 and No. 30 picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Both of them played well in their rookie seasons and look like parts of the young core going forward.

Where the Lakers will be looking to really make an impact will be in free agency. It is an open secret that Johnson and Pelinka have been loading up to make a run at two max free agents this offseason. Paul George and LeBron James are atop that list. However, those plans may be adjusting with an eye toward 2019.

Kawhi Leonard is arguably the best two-way player in the NBA. He is a tenacious defender that has worked diligently to round out the rest of his game, turning into a dangerous player offensively as well. Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA and someone that every team would love to have on their roster.

Leonard and the Spurs saw their relationship fracture this season. Leonard played in only nine games because of a quadriceps injury. There was a lot of differing opinions about the rehab process, as Leonard was cleared by the Spurs to play, but remained sidelined.

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That caused quite a stir, as it was reported that Leonard wanted to play with the Lakers. Acquiring Leonard is easier said than done. Leonard is under contract for one more season, which means the Lakers will have to trade for him or wait for him until he is a free agent in 2019.

This is a similar predicament that the Lakers were in last year with Paul George. George had one year remaining on his contract but made it clear he wanted to play for the Lakers. The Indiana Pacers wanted no part of trading him to where he wanted to go, as he landed with the Oklahoma City Thunder via trade.

The Lakers attempted to trade for George, but were turned away. They could pursue Leonard via trade, but it sounds like the Spurs won’t entertain offers from Los Angeles. That may not matter at the end of the day.

According to Ken Berger of Bleacher Report, the Lakers are willing to wait until 2019 to acquire Leonard because they are confident that they can sign him as a free agent.

"It’s commonly heard on the front office grapevine that Leonard is eyeing the Lakers as a free agent in 2019. One of the Western Conference executives noted it’s no accident that the Lakers reportedly have shifted their free-agent plans to focus on the ’19 class (which Leonard may headline), according to Shelburne and’s Adrian Wojnarowski, as opposed to a quick fix this summer.“That’s why [the Lakers] are spinning it into ‘wait till next year,’” the executive said. “They know they can get Kawhi.”"

Signing Leonard is the more appealing route for the franchise. To acquire him in a trade, the Lakers would have to part with a large chunk of their young core. It would not be surprising if San Antonio asked for at least two of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart. Future draft picks would more than likely also be involved.

If the Lakers wait and sign him, they can add Leonard to that young core. Retaining all of those players, along with Julius Randle possibly this offseason, looks a lot more appealing.

Imagine the Lakers signing George this offseason and retaining Randle and adding Leonard next season to go along with Ball, Ingram, Kuzma and Hart. That would give the Lakers quite a core to build around for years to come.

Next: 4 Reasons To Trade For Kawhi Leonard

Los Angeles should do what they can to keep their core and add veterans such as Leonard to them. If they are confident in signing Leonard next summer, holding onto their assets and adding Leonard to them, not trading them away for them, would make their team much stronger in the long run.