If Kawhi Leonard's future is in Los Angeles, Brandon Ingram's will likely be in San Antonio.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, "The Lakers are willing to include former No. 2 overall pick Ingram and a future first-round pick in a package for Leonard, but the Spurs are seeking a far more complete haul of Lakers young players and future picks, league sources said."
That followed a report from Sam Amick of USA Today earlier on Thursday suggesting the Lakers were considering making a "Godfather" offer for Leonard:
The reasons the Lakers might be the one team willing to make the Spurs an offer they can't refuse is twofold: It's unclear if Leonard would sign a long-term extension with teams other than the Lakers—many teams may be disinclined to give up major assets for a one-year rental—and the prospects of landing LeBron James or Paul George could be dependent on acquiring Leonard in a trade.
As Wojnarowski wrote: "The Lakers are motivated to make a deal for Leonard on several fronts, including the potential boost it would give them in luring LeBron James to Los Angeles. Leonard wants a trade to the Lakers now, and has expressed his desire to sign with them in free agency in 2019."
But what would a "Godfather" deal entail? Marc Stein of the New York Times floated one possibility:
To get those multiple first-rounders, the team would likely have to find a new home for Lonzo Ball. It's possible the Spurs would want Ball, but it also wouldn't be surprising if San Antonio—who just went through a season-long drama with Leonard—wanted to avoid LaVar Ball's public shenanigans.
But building around a talented young player like the 20-year-old Ingram—who averaged 16.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists in his sophomore campaign—would likely be appealing for the Spurs, even at the expense of losing Leonard:
Kevin O'Connor @KevinOConnorNBA
If I were the Spurs I'd use the Celtics (and other teams) as leverage against the Lakers to try and force Magic and Rob Pelinka to give Brandon Ingram plus a ton else. It'd suck to trade Kawhi to LA, but it won't suck when Ingram is putting up 20-5-5 at age 21 in San Antonio.
A deal with the Lakers could still hit snags. An earlier report from ESPN's Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst suggested the Spurs had no interest in dealing Leonard to the Lakers, though talks between the teams have since reportedly resumed.
Huge offers from teams like the Boston Celtics or Philadelphia 76ers, meanwhile, could also entice the Spurs.
Regardless, the Spurs need not rush, especially if they are primarily negotiating with the Lakers. They could sit tight until the big names like George and James make their free-agent decisions. Doing so might prevent the Lakers from forming a superteam, as George could choose to return to Oklahoma City and James could sign elsewhere amidst the uncertainty over Leonard.
If James and George are out of play for the Lakers, sending Leonard to a rival might be more palatable for the Spurs.
If the Lakers are able to acquire Leonard before free agency commences, however, it may be enough to convince James to sign with the Lakers and kick off a new superteam in the Western Conference. And so the NBA world waits in anticipation.