The Los Angeles Lakers re-engaged the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday in pursuit of a trade for All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard, league sources told ESPN.
The stakes on these talks are enormous because the teams believe a deal for Leonard would likely clinch a free-agent commitment out of LeBron James to the Lakers. James has until late Friday night to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This to me is the only realistic scenario in which LeBron leaves Cleveland this year, and I didn’t think it was all that realistic until now.
I doubted the Spurs would actually want to trade Leonard to the Lakers, but perhaps they will.
Other potential destinations still prevent James from being able to join a team that will be able to beat Golden State, and since I bought the idea James cares about his hometown fans when he re-signed with the Cavs four years ago, I still think he would rather lose to the Warriors as a Cav than in any other uniform.
I could be wrong of course.
Staying in Cleveland would also fit Dwyane Wade’s suggestion James’ next decision would be about lifestyle this time around — noteworthy because uprooting his family probably isn’t appealing at this point.
As much as I love both loyalty and the great state of Ohio, I can see how the temptation to join another true super team could be overwhelming.
And as a fan of the league I would be both fascinated to see the new-look Lakers try to dethrone the Warriors and dismayed that super teams have screwed up competitive balance throughout the league.