Lakers Rumors: Latest on Possible Kawhi Leonard Trade, LeBron James and More

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 13, 2018

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 5: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs drives to the basket against the Los Angeles Lakers on April 5, 2017 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 2017 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mark Sobhani/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have been playing with house money ever since LeBron James signed on the dotted line.

They're big-time winners of the 2018 NBA offseason regardless of what happens from here. That said, they must keep both their eyes and ears open to potential upgrades since they're now constructed around a 33-year-old centerpiece.

In other words, the rumor mill can't close. Unsurprisingly, that hasn't been an issue since the Association's most prominent player joined its most recognizable franchise.

Here are the latest batch of updates.


No "Urgency" To Add Kawhi?

Lakers fans awaiting Kawhi Leonard's arrival might want to get comfortable.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said on his podcast the Lakers "have not shown a sense of urgency" to trade for Leonard, via Lakers Nation's Trevor Lane.

As much as Leonard would help—he might be the best two-way talent in basketball—there are many reasons for L.A. to slow play this.

The San Antonio Spurs' reported asking price is absurd. Cap guru Larry Coon said on Spectrum SportsNet the Spurs wanted Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, two first-round picks and the right to swap two additional firsts.

Why not ask for LeBron James, too?

That's too much for Leonard, especially now. He played nine games last nine season, and no one seems to have a good grasp on his mysterious quad injury. He can wiggle out of his contract next summer and reportedly has eyes on the Lakers, per Wojnarowski.

Plus, the trade market isn't exactly erupting for Leonard. The Philadelphia 76ers haven't offered Markelle Fultz, sources told ESPN's Zach Lowe, and the Boston Celtics haven't included Jaylen Brown.

There's no reason for the Lakers to force the issue, especially when James isn't asking them to.


LeBron Was Long Leaning Lakers?

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 14: Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers listens to LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers after the game at Quicken Loans Arena on December 14, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Lakers 121-112. NOTE TO U
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Maybe Jerry West was on to something when he told Sports Illustrated'Jack McCallum that James "was not a tough free-agent signing."

As McCallum's colleague, Lee Jenkins, noted, James may have been zeroing in on the Lakers before the market even opened.

"James was leaning toward L.A. for days, and according to those outside his direct orbit, for months," Jenkins wrote.

That wouldn't be hard to imagine.

James already owned two homes in the city, so clearly he appreciated the market. He also had his worst supporting cast since his first exit from Cleveland, so it's not like there were obvious basketball reasons to stay.

Plus, the pace of this process suggests James' mind was mostly made up. Less than 24 hours after the market opened, he agreed to join the Lakers. His first two free-agency decisions were announced closer to the middle of the month.


Less Carmelo Interest Than Thought?

Once Wojnarowski and Royce Young brought word of an "inevitable" summer split between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Carmelo Anthony, the Lakers were logically connected to the latter.

The organization had courted him before, and it now had his Banana Boat buddy to help with the sales pitch.

Yahoo Sports' Jordan Schultz reported the club was on Carmelo's shortlist:

Jordan Schultz @Schultz_Report

Source close to Carmelo Anthony says the #Lakers are one of Melo’s preferred destinations, and that he's high on chance to finally play with #LeBron. Keep in mind too, that Carmelo owns a house in LA.

But is the interest mutual? That's not as certain as one might think.

"It's been suggested to mestronglythat the Lakers' interest is overstated," Marc Stein of the New York Times wrote.

This would make a lot of sense.

Unless the Lakers suddenly add a Kawhi-type talent, they won't be contending for this season's crown. So, other than perhaps making James more comfortable, the 34-year-old Anthony would seemingly be of little use.

He's never been a trustworthy defender, and those issues are only worsening with age. He didn't look comfortable trying to fit as a support scorer last season. He's an adequate shooter, but not a sniper (career 34.7 percent from distance). And any minutes he'd get would potentially come at the cost of developmental time for the likes of Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma.

Even if Anthony could nudge the 2018-19 win total a tad higher, the Lakers might be better off without him.