If the Los Angeles Lakers are to add a superstar to join LeBron James this summer, the prevailing belief has been Kawhi Leonard would be the target. But they could be casting a far wider net than that.
According to Chris Sheridan of GetMoreSports.com, "A number of trade options are being considered by Lakers executives Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, and names that are being bandied about include Damian Lillard, Kevin Love, DeMar DeRozan, Bradley Beal and John Wall...among others."
As for Leonard, Sheridan wrote:
"The Kawhi situation remains fluid, with the [Philadelphia 76ers] still appearing to be the most palatable landing zone given their willingness to put together some package of assets that might include Dario Saric, Rovert Covington, Zhaire Smith, Markelle Fultz and Miami's unprotected 2021 first-round draft pick in order to satisfy the Spurs.
But the monkey wrench is Leonard's uncle, Dennis Robertson, who is telling anyone who will listen that Leonard will end up in Los Angeles one way or another by the time everything is said and done."
It's hard to imagine the Sixers would offer that many assets without clear assurances Leonard would re-sign with them for the long term—assurances that seem unlikely given his preferences for L.A.
So the Lakers may still be in the driver's seat for the disgruntled Spurs superstar.
As for the other possible Lakers targets, Love and DeRozan seem to be the most likely additions. In both cases, they could be made available if their respective teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors, rebuild.
The Cavaliers may be incentivized to do so, considering they owe the Atlanta Hawks their first-round pick in the 2019 draft if it falls outside the top 10. And with a number of teams improved this offseason, next season could be a good one to begin tanking.
The Raptors, on the other hand, could decide to put off their rebuilding efforts with James out of the Eastern Conference. While the Boston Celtics and Sixers are probably the favorites in the East, the Raptors were the No. 1 seed last year and could keep the band together for a run at the NBA Finals.
Lillard, Wall and Beal seem less likely to change teams this summer unless internal dynamics shift dramatically. Lillard is the face of the franchise in Portland; unless he's reached a Leonard level of unhappiness—which hasn't been reported anywhere—it's hard to envision the Blazers would move him.
Ditto for Wall and Beal in Washington. Unless their partnership becomes untenable—again, that level of discontent isn't being reported—the Wizards will likely bring them back and make a run at the Finals in the weaker Eastern Conference.
Obviously, things change fast in the NBA, and the Lakers have the young assets to pounce on any of the above players if the opportunity arises. The Lakers should be doing their due diligence in seeking a running mate for James.
But for now, Leonard still feels like the most likely superstar the team will be able to add via trade this summer.