For the Lakers and the Celtics, shipping a package built around those players would be easier to justify if only they could get assurance from Leonard that he's willing to stay with the team beyond next year. Perhaps San Antonio won't get a better offer than one made by the Lakers, considering Leonard appears hellbent on signing a long-term contract with one of the Los Angeles teams next summer.
Getting Leonard will cost the Lakers a steep price as the Spurs are not likely to give up their franchise player for just any player on L.A.'s roster. But, the report reiterates that the Lakers are the "franchise that Leonard wants to be traded to", and that the Spurs haven't ruled out any team in a potential Leonard trade.
For all the anticipation of the Los Angeles Lakers making a splash in free agency, they've also been a mainstay in trade rumors, and specifically with relation to San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.
The stakes on these talks are enormous, because a deal for Leonard would likely clinch a free agent commitment out of LeBron James. George had only one season remaining on his deal when the Pacers traded him last summer. The agent reasoned that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich only wants to compete for championships, and keeping Leonard helps him accomplish that, regardless of Leonard's wishes.
For the Lakers, it's a dicey position, offering some of their young core players and future draft picks, knowing it would rid them of their depth if they do land a super-team or harm their future if they land Leonard, but not George or James.
Another preference by James that could impact free agency, league sources said, is that he wants to make a decision quickly in July free agency.