Lakers, LeBron James, and the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes

Lakers, LeBron James, and the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes

The longer Kawhi Leonard goes without being traded out of San Antonio the more it looks like the Spurs are holding their star player hostage. However, if the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year makes it clear he won't sign a long-term deal with any other team, the return package would likely be limited, meaning the Lakers may be able to put the best offer on the table. He's also strongly hinted that he wants to sign with the Lakers when he hits free agency next season, so he could be an expensive one-year rental for whomever wins the Kawhi sweepstakes.

With Paul George still reportedly undecided on leaving Oklahoma City, despite the almost two years long rumors of him bolting to Los Angeles, the Lakers have little choice but to improve their package for Leonard. Paul George has openly expressed his desire to play for the Lakers. When Irving first told the Cavaliers he wanted a trade, he gave them a list of four preferred spots: the San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Miami Heat.

That doesn't mean it's impossible for the two sides to agree on a deal. The Spurs have acknowledged their fractured relationship with Leonard, but general manager R.C. Buford recently said the team's first option would be to retain the 26-year-old All-Star.

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The Celtics have reportedly made another offer for Kawhi Leonard. A third team could take a Laker and send the Spurs a preferable player or draft pick. 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. The price for Leonard would have to include some combination of Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and more.

The Celtics and Spurs had a "brief" trade discussion Wednesday, but "there was no real negotiation", according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. A sign-and-trade with Julius Randle is a possibility.

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