Photo via NBA.com
By Glen Ivol
The Los Angeles Lakers currently have the cap space to bring in two max free agents this summer. Getting that third piece to form a big three should be their end goal if that happens. The Lakers should keep it simple and target the three best players on the market: LeBron James, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard. However, getting those three players would be anything but simple.
The first part of the process would be to secure a deal in place to trade for Kawhi Leonard. This will be anything but easy as it will take an irresistible offer, especially considering the Spurs said they’re interested in offering the super max. Here’s what a potential trade could look like:
Lakers Receive: SF Kawhi Leonard, G Brandon Paul
Spurs Receive: SF Brandon Ingram, PF Kyle Kuzma, G Josh Hart, F Luol Deng, 2021 First Rd. Pick
For the Spurs to even consider a Kawhi trade with the Lakers, Brandon Ingram is going to be the centerpiece of the deal – no way around that. With Spurs still interested in keeping Kawhi around as well and the fact the Lakers are a conference rival, LA will have to pony up. Parting with Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart will sting… a lot. But when you have a chance to add three of top-20 players in the league and rid yourself of Luol Deng’s contract, you do it in a heartbeat. Deng’s salary needs to be involved or else the deal can’t go through, so the 2021 first rounder is a sweetener to incentivize the Spurs to take him. And also, if there is any coach in the league who is going to any value out of Deng, it’s Pop. For the Spurs, parting with Kawhi will be tough but adding three young studs of their own to partner with Dejounte Murray and LaMarcus Aldridge might just be the new life this franchise needs.
The easiest person for the Lakers to acquire will be Paul George. It seems like it’s been a formality he is going to sign there for well over a year now and that as soon as the free agency period begins, the contract will be signed. Even without Leonard or James it seems like a no-brainer for LA to add George, but getting him will help convince LeBron. Getting James to come to the Lakers will be the hardest part of the plan. Magic Johnson and Co. are going to have to convince the best player in the world to leave the seemingly free ride in the East and join the uber-competitive Western Conference. Getting Paul George to sign early would be key as he could be part of the team now convincing James to sign.
Once those two are signed and the Leonard trade is completed, the Lakers would then round out the rosters for players at a discount or the MLE rate. Brook Lopez already said he would consider a cheaper deal if the Lakers became contenders and I would say this definitely qualifies. A line-up of Lonzo, PG, Kawhi, LeBron and Lopez would be one to watch. Getting players to come off the bench for the veteran’s minimum should be easy.
So, it’s as simple as that. Convince PG and LeBron to sign and then pull the trigger on the Kawhi deal. Don’t mess it up Magic.
Please keep in mind this is dream scenario for the Lakers
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