Lakers Rumors: Latest on Kawhi Leonard and Post-Anthony Davis Trade Plans

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2019

New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) participates in warm ups before an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

All eyes remain on the Los Angeles Lakers as a triumphant front office next turns its attention to carving out a nice supporting cast for the duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. 

Or add another superstar, of course. 

This is the Lakers, so the expectation remains the superstar duo and front office could still lure another max-type player to town, such as Kawhi Leonard, then worry about actually filling out the rest of the roster. 

All the chips seem to be falling into place, too, with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reporting Davis waived his $4 million trade kicker, meaning the Lakers have enough wiggle room to add another max player. The latest rumors only add more weight to the idea. 

      

Kawhi Leonard

Ben Margot/Associated Press

It turns out the Lakers should at least get a meet with Leonard. 

Leonard declined his player option with the Toronto Raptors and is at least doing his due diligence. And even if it doesn't seem like any team could rip him away from the champions, the Lakers will at least apparently have a shot at trying. 

Wojnarowski reported the Raptors will always get a final shot at Leonard in any scenario, but he is visiting with both Los Angeles teams.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports added more: 

"Leonard intends to grant the Lakers and the Clippers meetings when free agency opens on June 30, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The meetings would be held in Los Angeles, sources said. Leonard, who declined his $21.3 million player option to become an unrestricted free agent, plans to meet with a handful of teams—including the Raptors—before making a decision about his future, sources said."

At this point, Leonard doesn't need much of an introduction. The two-time NBA Finals MVP is still only about to be 28 years old and put up a career-best 26.6 points per game in Toronto last year while shooting 49.6 percent from the floor and 37.1 percent from deep, never mind the usual two-way elite play. 

The "how" of a fit on the court with LeBron and Davis is something everyone will figure out later. He'd help the instant-contention idea right now and make the post-LeBron era smoother. But Leonard will have to decide whether he wants to join a "superteam" or if he'd prefer one of the other two locales. 

     

D'Angelo Russell and More

Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Part of the Lakers' maneuvering to make room for Davis plus another max contract included shipping away three players—Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones—to the Washington Wizards, according to Adrian Wojnarowski, Zach Lowe and Bobby Marks of ESPN.com

That report also took a deep dive into a laundry list of options the Lakers front office is reportedly considering: 

"The Lakers are expected to pursue several scenarios in free agency, including Brooklyn Nets point guard D'Angelo Russell—who is a restricted free agent—and Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard, league sources said. If the Lakers decide to break up the money, they're interested in several combinations of players, including Toronto's Danny Green, Orlando Magic guard Terrence Ross, Portland Trail Blazers guard Seth Curry and several other free agents with a strong shooting ability."

It should go without saying, but Russell is the most interesting non-Leonard item here. 

Russell was the big name involved in a split with the Lakers and Magic Johnson not too long ago. He landed with the Brooklyn Nets and in a presumably healthier environment for his developmental process, then he erupted into a player who matched the hype of his draft slot. 

Last year, the 23-year-old lived up to his second-overall billing with averages of 21.1 points and 7.0 assists, not to mention shooting 43.4 percent from the floor. 

Russell is likely looking for a massive contract of his own, but it isn't necessarily something the Lakers should shy away from if both parties are open to a reunion. The upside there gives the front office plenty of post-LeBron hope, and even despite the past split, it seems like a safer option than other point stars like Kyrie Irving

            

Carmelo Anthony

Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Believe it or not, the Carmelo Anthony chatter isn't necessarily a thing of the past. 

Anthony is now 35 years old and only played in 10 games with the Houston Rockets last year, yet there seems to be some traction to the idea he could link up with LeBron and the Lakers. 

The latest development on this front comes from Ian Begley of SNY.tv: "[...] Things can always change, but most executives monitoring Anthony's free agency see the Lakers as the most likely destination for the 10-time All-Star."

Anthony is likely a secondary target at best for the Lakers at this point, and that's if he is willing to slide into a sixth-man role. Anything more could probably do more harm than good for the Lakers on the floor at this point. 

Yet Anthony could still be a viable rotational piece. The 2018-19 season wasn't a good sample size during his time in Houston, but the year prior in Oklahoma City is interesting: over 78 games, Anthony still averaged 16.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting from the floor. 

Realistically, Anthony likely has plenty of options on the market if he's willing to take a lesser role. That could include a shot at a title with LeBron and Davis in Los Angeles, though it doesn't figure to happen during the first major wave on the market. 

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