Lakers, LeBron James, and the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes

Lakers Rumors: LA's Pitch to Sign Paul George Has Been Revealed

According to reporting from ESPN, the Los Angeles Lakers would likely clinch a free agent commitment from LeBron James if they are able to agree upon a trade for Kawhi Leonard.

Emrani is the same fan who earlier this year paid for #LABron billboards recruiting LeBron James to the Lakers.

Leonard has been adamant that he doesn't want to step into the San Antonio locker room again, and the Spurs have been adamant that they won't be forced into a trade, or a timetable, prior to the February trading deadline, league sources said. The Lakers could even acquire a future first-rounder from a team that's looking to unload salary for the 2018-2019 season, and that draft pick could be used in a deal for Leonard, according to ESPN. If the Spurs aren't willing to trade Leonard within the Western Conference, Kawhi may have to get creative with his preferences.

League sources also told ESPN that the Lakers' nerves in the front office are frayed more with recent reports that free agent Paul George may choose to stay in Oklahoma City instead of sign with his hometown Lakers, as many in the media have seen as a foregone conclusion for most of the last season. They'd likely be happy to deal some of their young players like Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma if they were certain they could land two of the three with LeBron, Leonard, and Paul George, but that does not appear to be a guarantee at this time.

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San Antonio would prefer to bring back the two-time National Basketball Association defensive player of the year and 2014 Finals MVP, with a contract extension worth over $200 million somewhere on the table, but Leonard distanced himself from the team last season while missing most of it with a mysteriously stubborn thigh injury.

Don't expect the Spurs to panic trade Leonard like the Cavaliers did with Kyrie Irving.

The Celtics have plenty of possible options in making an offer for Leonard. If he's serious about his employment with the team, swinging a deal for Leonard would make him a man of his word. That could play into the patient strategy Johnson is professing, but the Lakers may have to push their chips to the center of the table much sooner than they might prefer, if they want to make James's Friday decision that much easier.

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