Kawhi Leonard Trade Rumors: Lakers May Wait to Lure Star in 2019 Free Agency

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2018

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 5: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Phoenix Suns on January 5, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly may be willing to wait until free agency next offseason to make a run at forward Kawhi Leonard.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers are "kind of showing their hand" that they may prefer to be patient rather than sending assets to the San Antonio Spurs for Leonard in a trade:

Wojnarowski also noted that the Lakers haven't made an "overwhelming offer" that would compel San Antonio to deal Leonard.

When it first became public that Leonard wanted out of San Antonio in June,Β WojnarowskiΒ reported that the 27-year-old favored a trade to his hometown of L.A.

Of the two Los Angeles-based teams, Wojnarowski noted that the Lakers were his preference.

If Leonard is set on joining the Lakers, then they may be wise to roll the dice by waiting to sign him and not have to give up other assets.

A trade for Leonard would likely cost the Lakers some combination of their best young players in Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma.

Adding Leonard to a team that includes LeBron James would make the Lakers much stronger in 2018-19, but it might hurt them over the long term since each of Ingram, Ball and Kuzma seemingly all have All-Star potential.

Given the Golden State Warriors' dominance and their addition of center DeMarcus Cousins in free agency, the Lakers may not have a prayer of competing for an NBA Finals berth in the Western Conference next season regardless of whether they have Leonard.

Even so, there will be pressure on James and the Lakers to perform due to the fanfare attached to his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for L.A.

The biggest risk with waiting until next offseason is the possibility Leonard is traded to a team like the Boston Celtics or Philadelphia 76ers and decides to re-sign.

That is precisely what happened with Paul George this offseason.

PG-13 was long linked to the Lakers, but the Oklahoma City Thunder acquired him from the Indiana Pacers last offseason and did enough over the course of a year to convince him to stay.

But if taking that risk results in keeping their young core intact, it may be worth a roll of the dice for the Lakers.