Los Angeles Lakers: Figuring out what they should offer for Kawhi Leonard

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Kawhi Leonard
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Kawhi Leonard /

With the Los Angeles Lakers pursuing Kawhi Leonard, how much should they give in order to acquire him?

Things are starting to get crazy leading up to the start of free agency for the Los Angeles Lakers. At the center of all the free agency chatter is the situation revolving around Kawhi Leonard, are the San Antonio Spurs, and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Wednesday morning it was reported by Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne, and Brian Windhorst that there was pressure building on the Lakers to make a deal to acquire Kawhi, as the trade could affect the decisions of a guy named LeBron James. The piece also goes on to talk about how Paul George to the Lakers is no longer a certainty. Following all that news early in the day, Ramona Shelburne dropped this late at night.

The Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Clippers have also made offers to the Spurs according to the super team of reporters on the story. Kawhi’s 2019 free agency and his supposed desires of wanting to play for the Lakers has given at least the Celtics concern. This has caused them and possibly other teams to low-ball deals to the Spurs. That may seem to give the Lakers the most leverage, but Wojnarowski also talks about how there’s pressure to get a deal done before free agency starts since the acquisition of Kawhi would encourage LeBron to also come to L.A.

What a Lakers Trade for Kawhi Leonard Could Look Like

Let’s talk about what a Lakers trade for Kawhi would look like. Woj also says in that piece above that a Lakers deal would probably include Brandon Ingram and a future first-round pick. In the first story that the trio broke on Wednesday there were far more assets mentioned on the Lakers side. Those assets included Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, two future first-round picks, and possibly even Julius Randle in a sign-and-trade. There were reports of a “Godfather” offer from the Lakers that may have involved most, if not all of the assets I just mentioned. Given all of that information, it seems as though that a trade between the Lakers and the Spurs would fall in the range of those two reports.

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The one constant in everything is Brandon Ingram. If the Lakers make any trade with the Spurs it seems Ingram will definitely be on his way out. It also seems to be a given that a first-round pick will be going over to the Spurs for Kawhi. The Lakers could theoretically stop there, but if the Spurs play hardball and the Lakers really think LeBron James would 100% come if Kawhi was there, they may have to up the ante.

I was curious as to what lengths Lakers fans would be willing to take to get Kawhi in a trade, so I made a Twitter poll. As I suspected, the Lakers’ faithful were protective of the young guys and mostly selected the least severe option I posted on Twitter: Kuzma, Ingram, and a future first-rounder for Kawhi (Some people in the replies of the tweet said that they’d do something less than that option).

A Trade for Kawhi Might be a Trade for LeBron

When you consider everything, it truly seems that the Lakers have all the leverage on the Spurs. That is until you consider the reports that LeBron James would come to the Lakers if Kawhi was there. In the reports listed at the top, they mention that LeBron is hesitant to be the first star to move in free agency, while also wanting to make his decision quickly. That gives the Lakers a small window to get the Spurs to accept an offer, and that’s why I think they have to do something more than Ingram and a first-rounder.

Throw Kuzma in there. Throw another first-rounder in there. Throw Hart in there. Don’t go full-blown “Godfather” and offer all of the assets I listed above, but be aggressive. Lakers fans may not want to trade for Kawhi since it’s very clear that he wants to come to L.A. either way once he’s a free agent in 2019, but come on.

Kawhi is possibly the ticket to bringing in LeBron. Sure, LeBron could come to the Lakers even if they don’t trade for Kawhi in the next couple days, but that isn’t a certainty by any means. The Lakers may have to convince the stubborn Spurs to part ways with Kawhi quickly by making a substantial offer that may make Lakers fans feel uneasy.

Next: Ranking the 10 greatest free agency signings in Lakers history

The fact of the matter is that a Lakers team led by LeBron and Kawhi would immediately contend for a championship. That’s what we want as Lakers fans, and we may have to risk the young guys to attain it.