The San Antonio Spurs are entering a make or break offseason. Following a nearly year-long debate over how to treat Kawhi Leonard’s ongoing quadriceps injury, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is expected to speak with him this summer with the hopes of repairing their relationship as Leonard contemplates becoming a free agent next year. If Kawhi doesn’t have a change of heart by the time next season rolls around, the Los Angeles Lakers believe they can land Leonard in 2019, according to Ken Berger of Bleacher Report.
“That’s why [the Lakers] are spinning it into ‘wait till next year,'” the executive said. “They know they can get Kawhi.” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne are reporting that the Lakers have readjusted their focus on being major players in the 2019 free agent class which could include Leonard, in addition to Jimmy Butler, and Klay Thompson. The expectation is that Paul George will re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder while LeBron James doesn't want to be a part of a potential rebuilding project without the understanding that an "established star" would be joining him.
If Leonard decides to forego the option of possibly signing a “super- max” deal with the Spurs worth $219 million over five years, the appeal of playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, could soften the financial blow for Kawhi. There is a chance, albeit slim, that Popovich can work things out with the two-time Defensive Player of the Year like he did with LaMarcus Aldridge last summer. If Pop can make lightning strike twice, where does that leave the Lakers?