They have a lot they’d have to juggle, but the Lakers are holding out hope of signing superstar free agent Kawhi Leonard.
Though the Clippers are the favored Los Angeles team to land Leonard, Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher reported Monday that one “Western Conference VP says the Lakers are operating as if ‘they think they have a strong shot’ at adding Leonard after acquiring New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis to play alongside their incumbent star, LeBron James, in a deal that can’t be officially consummated until next month.”
Once the Davis deal is complete, the Lakers will only have between $23 million and $27 million in cap space. To sign Leonard to the max deal he wants, the team would have to either push back its Davis deal or move other players to free up the required $32 million.
If the Lakers somehow pull that off, they’d have to fill the rest of their roster with veteran players on league-minimum deals.
Once the Lakers traded for Davis, they instantly became the betting favorites to win next year’s NBA title with 3/1 odds. Adding Leonard, a Southern California native and the 2019 NBA Finals MVP, would likely make those odds even better.
However, according to Yahoo, the Raptors are starting to look like they have the inside track to retain Leonard’s services. They are the only team capable of offering a max contract of five years and $190 million.
Leonard had career-high per game averages in points (26.6) and rebounds (7.3) last season with Toronto, and the city has since poured nothing but affection his way since the team won the title.
Danny Green, who was part of the deal that sent Leonard to Toronto, said the Raptors have done as much as they can to persuade Leonard to stay.
“I don’t know the percentage (of chances that Leonard stays). But I think it’s a higher percentage for him to be here than to leave,” Green said during Hoops Talk, via Sportsnet. “The city, the fans have done their job, the organization’s done their job. It’s going to be a hard place (for Leonard) to turn down. (You) have a great team and have a city, people, fans that love you and are willing to give you almost everything. … They give you everything, the world, and then some.”