It’s not a stretch to claim that the Los Angeles Lakers are feeling like a kid that’s really good at playing the claw machine at the local arcade.
They just got the best piece every single team in the association wanted out of the impressive pool of players in the machine. This Kingly piece named LeBron James quickly became the headline of many NBA news sites. After all, who wouldn’t be shocked to see such a fantastic player such as him make the switch and make the already-difficult Western Conference even more stacked?
However, it seems like Magic Johnson is far from walking away from the claw game. There is still one piece they believe can help them make the NBA Finals and add another championship banner to the already-impressive gallery at Staples Center.
The man they want is Kawhi Leonard, the biggest claw in today’s NBA. It’s pretty obvious that the Lakers are more than willing to spend a pretty penny to get the man they want. However, the question that begs to be asked is this: should they shoot their shot this year or wait for the time they can freely court their man?
Kawhi to Hollywood? Yeah!
It’s no secret that the man wants to leave the Lone Star State after spending a bizarre season of the lineup for the Spurs. There’s no question that the franchise has been frustrated with their star’s outright refusal to play despite the Spurs’ medical team clearing the kid from Compton to return to the team.
His unwillingness to return to the roster greatly affected the Spurs season. Head coach Gregg Popovich quickly assumed that the star wasn’t going to be returning to the squad, and some of the Spurs players had they say about the bizarre situation. It quickly became clear after San Antonio’s poor series against the Golden State Warriors that they might have to ship him off elsewhere.
Now that it’s been made clear that he will not be playing the rest of his career in a Spurs jersey, Pop and Sons are looking to unload Kawhi into a situation where he will be headed to a team of his choice and the Spurs would get quality picks in return.
Kawhi’s desire to return and play in Los Angeles is a poorly kept secret among many basketball fans, and there’s no question that the Lakers is the most ideal destination for the 27-year-old.
The move is plausible for every party involved. Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka are more than interested to bring Kawhi over. They also have exciting young talent that San Antonio can groom to become the successors to the keys of the Spurs Kingdom. Reports have also stated that Popovich wants Kawhi to be happy and will look for the best option for him.
Of course, the prospect of playing with the best player of his generation, who he ironically defeated to get his first championship ring, is definitely an intriguing idea for him.
The Clippers could also be a destination for Kawhi, but every Laker fan that keeps on refreshing Kawhi Leonard updates are hoping with every fibre of their being that they will see the Klaw donning the Purple and Gold.
Is It Worth the Risk?
Sure, the Lakers can pull the trigger and make an offer the Spurs just cannot refuse. However, should Magic really make the move now?
Sure, they are under pressure to win now, but LeBron James’ contract secures his services for the Lakers until 2021. This kind of commitment from LeBron gives the Lakers front office this offseason and the 2019 summer to craft a superb deal for Kawhi should trade talks fall through.
Moreover, they also have a few issues with their payroll that they have to address. They have to find a way to unload Luol Deng’s ridiculous $18,000,000 contract, and there’s no way the Spurs would take on such a contract in exchange for Kawhi.
They can also involve one of their three young stars — Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball — in a package in order to acquire Kawhi. While they will likely get their man in doing so, they will likely miss out on the long-term stability the three lads can provide when they reach their full potential.
Should the Lakers Play Now?
As much as acquiring Kawhi through trade will vastly improve their outright odds at us, I don’t think the Lakers should trade with Spurs this offseason and see how the season plays out.
I don’t think sacrificing one of their three future stars for instant gratification is worth the risk. I think they’ve had enough experience with trying to force super teams to happen.
Moreover, if Kawhi really wants to move to LA, then he will leverage a move to the Lakers. I think the better thing for them is to talk to Kawhi and make him verbally commit to signing with the Lakers in the offseason.
However, I will be the last man to complain if Magic orchestrates a masterstroke to acquire Kawhi. After all, LeBron needs all the help he can get against the ridiculously strong Warriors.
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