Kawhi Leonard Rumors: SF Wants to Join Lakers, Doesn't Care About $219M Contract

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2018

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2018, file photo, San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) moves the ball up court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, in San Antonio. General manager R.C. Buford acknowledges star forward Kawhi Leonard is unhappy with the Spurs. He remains optimistic the relationship can be salvaged. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

Kawhi Leonard is reportedly willing to give up the supermax contract he could sign with the San Antonio Spurs this offseason to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.

According to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, "From what I am being told...he's made it very, very clear that he's looking to go to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers and he does not care about the $219 million supermax he could sign."

The Lakers have reached out, though the Spurs reportedly had no interest in discussing a deal.

According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, "When the Lakers called to express interest in Leonard, they were given the distinct impression the Spurs had no interest in doing business with them."

A Lakers source added: "They basically shut the door on us."

It makes sense. The two organizations have been rivals, and sending Leonard to the Lakers could entice LeBron James and Paul George to sign with Los Angeles in free agency, creating yet another superteam in the Western Conference.

The Spurs, were they to deal Leonard, might prefer to send him out of the conference. But the issue for any other teams seeking to put together a trade package for the superstar, like the Philadelphia 76ers or Boston Celtics, is that "Leonard will eventually alert rival teams considering trades for him that his intention is to sign in Los Angeles when he can become a free agent in 2019," per Shelburne's report.

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Those teams may be disinclined to give up a package of valuable assets for a one-year rental. While a team could convince itself it could win Leonard over with its culture and the opportunity to pursue championships, hoping he'd eventually sign a long-term extension, it's a major risk.

San Antonio could decide to keep Leonard, attempt to repair the relationship and, if it remains frayed, either move him during the season ahead of the trade deadline or risk losing him for nothing come free agency in 2019.

The Spurs have options, but it seems increasingly likely that Leonard plans on leaving at some point soon.