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NBA Rumors: Latest on Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Sixers and Lakers

John HealyContributor IMarch 11, 2019

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 10: Jimmy Butler #23 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on against the Indiana Pacers on March 10, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 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 2019 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Dow/Getty Images

One of the biggest questions this summer in NBA free agency will be who will join LeBron James and team up with him on the Los Angeles Lakers.

Do not expect it to be Kawhi Leonard. 

The Toronto Raptors forward, who was traded there by the San Antonio Spurs last summer, is unlikely to sign with the Lakers, ESPN's Michael C. Wright said on The Hoop Collective podcast. 

"That's just what I've been told," said Wright, who covers the Spurs. "It's what I've been told going back to last summer. I don't see that as something that's happening."

However, Philadelphia 76ers forward Jimmy Butler could be a realistic option for the Lakers. 

ESPN's Kevin Arnowitz floated the possibility of Butler leaving the Sixers and joining the Lakers as a "worst-case outcome" for Los Angeles should they fail to acquire Anthony Davis. 

He wrote that if the Lakers miss out on Davis and are not in the mix for Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker, they could perhaps turn their attention to Butler and offer him a four-year, $140 million max contract. 

Butler, 29, was traded to the Sixers from the Minnesota Timberwolves earlier this season, and Philadelphia has the intention of re-signing him and can offer him the most money. 

But Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com wrote that Butler's time in Philadelphia has been bumpy thus far, and he may prefer to play where he can be more of a focal point in the offense.

Alongside the Sixers trio of Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, it has been a tough adjustment for Butler to fit into the offensive system. 

Butler will present a difficult choice for the Sixers this summer: Sign him to a five-year, $190 million contract that only they can offer him? Or invest in Harris and extend Simmons while filling out the rest of their needs on the roster elsewhere?

Butler has struggled of late, especially from three-point range, where he entered Sunday's game shooting just 17.8 percent from beyond the arc in his last 13 games. 

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