This much we know: Kawhi Leonard's relationship with San Antonio soured this year, and he has made it clear he wants out of the Spurs organization. This much has long been speculated: Leonard wants to join the Lakers, his hometown team.
That speculation has impacted Kawhi's trade value. Though he wants to join a new team, teams that aren't the Lakers are hesitant to give up much for him. The Cavs, for example, seem interested, but how much can you rationally surrender for a guy who you know will be only a one-year rental?
According to a new piece from ESPN's NBA analyst Zach Lowe, the Kawhi-to-L.A. talk has shifted from rumors to "deep suspicions" among executives around the league.
"In theory, almost no team should pony up its best assets for a player who could bolt in a year without a nearly ironclad assurance he will re-sign," Lowe writes. "With Leonard, obtaining such assurance may not even be possible. No one knows whether they can trust the word of the advisors around him. There are deep suspicions that Leonard has already decided he wants to play for the Lakers."
Lowe isn't the only ESPN reporter claiming as much.
Here's what Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne wrote Tuesday: "Leonard wants a trade to Los Angeles, preferably the Lakers over the Clippers, league sources said. He has privately maintained that he no longer wants to play in San Antonio and will eventually alert rival teams considering trades for him that his intention is to sign in Los Angeles when he can become a free agent in 2019, league sources said."
Kawhi is set to earn $20.1 million this year, and he has a player option for 2019-20.