Lakers News: Latest Buzz on Pursuit of Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, More Stars

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2019

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) passes the ball in front of Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the second half of Game 4 of basketball's NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

After a constant stream of rumors and reports involving the Los Angeles Lakers, their future and how it impacts the NBA, the most important news of the offseason is finally settled.

Yes, LeBron James is switching numbers.

Anthony Davis will inherit the No. 23 uniform in Los Angeles. LeBron could possibly change to the No. 6 jersey he wore for the Miami Heat and previously for USA basketball.

That, of course, is intentionally burying the lede on a busy day for the Lakers. Thanks to the Washington Wizards and a little help from Davis, Los Angeles now holds an opportunity to chase a third max-contract player in free agency.

And, at the very worst, Kawhi Leonard is open to that pursuit.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports revealed the Toronto Raptors star intends to grant the Lakersas well as the Los Angeles Clippersa meeting when free agency officially opens Sunday.

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Kawhi intends to meet with Lakers and Clippers when free agency starts, per @ChrisBHaynes https://t.co/rARjwAVCoD

The Lakers were largely viewed as Plan C for Leonard, who can sign a $190 supermax deal in Toronto. He has been connected to the Clippers because they entered the offseason with max-contract space and offer a roster where Leonard would be the star.

For a while, salary-cap space was an issue for the Lakers. Washington agreeing to trade with L.A. changes that.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Los Angeles will send Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones to the Wizards. Combined with Davis agreeing to waive his $4 million trade kicker, and the Lakers have successfully opened a $32 million max slot.

Granted, it merely establishes them as a possibility for Leonard. He might prefer a type of spotlight both the Raptors and Clippers could provide, as opposed to playing in James' shadow.

If Kawhi doesn't join the Lakers, they'll shift to other All-Stars.

Winslow Townson/Associated Press

Marc Stein of The New York Times noted Kyrie Irving is "as much a target" as Leonard despite all signals pointing Irving to the Brooklyn Nets. If that happens, D'Angelo Russell would likely become an unrestricted free agent and land on the radar.

According to B/R's Ric Bucher, Jimmy Butler has interest in joining the Lakers and may consider taking less than the max.

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times said Klay Thompson is willing to engaged with both Los Angeles teams if the Golden State Warriors don't offer a $190 million max deal. This is a leverage play from Thompson's side since he's expected to re-sign, but the Lakers should be content with a mention.

Although it may sound like the sky is falling if the Lakers whiff on Leonard, Irving, Thompson and even Russell, they still have a $32 million to build the roster around LeBron and Davis.

Woj identified Danny Green, Terrence Ross, Seth Curry and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as potential targets.

The Lakers are positioned to make a splash. But the NBA world is waiting to see whether it's from a pencil dive or a cannonball.


Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.