Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz on Possible Kawhi Leonard Trade and Carmelo Anthony

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 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

The Los Angeles Lakers are officially back in the center of the NBA universe after signing LeBron James, still arguably the best basketball player on the planet.

In this era of super-team-building, the inevitable follow-up question arises: What will they do next?

A good deal of trade chatter has centered on San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard. Assuming he's healthy, Leonard could team with LeBron to form one of the more formidable twosomes in league history.

In June, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reported that Leonard felt "uncomfortable" with the Spurs and harbored "mistrust" over the way they dealt with his quad injury during the 2017-18 campaign. The writing for an exit is on the wall.

"You gotta expect that he's gone sooner than later," an unnamed Western Conference executive said, per Justin Tinsley of Theundefeated.com. "You don’t want that dragging into the season. And for someone like Kawhi, you absolutely have to get something in return. … It's like the entire league is just waiting on the shoe to drop."

The price for Kawhi will surely be steep, and could include versatile 20-year-old Brandon Ingram as a starting point, as The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor speculated.

If the Lakers want to go another route, or at least keep multiple possibilities on the table, they could target Carmelo Anthony.

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

According to Yahoo Sports' Jordan Schultz, the Lakers are one of Anthony's "preferred destinations" and he's "high on [the] chance" to join forces with James.

Getting the 33-year-old Anthony from the Oklahoma City Thunder would surely cost the Lakers less in terms of talent and draft picks, but would also add less potential value than the 27-year-old Leonard. 

Anthony averaged a career-low 16.2 points per game for the Thunder last season, but could potentially enjoy a renaissance playing Robin to James' Batman.

As the King James era dawns in SoCal, we await the next development.