Earlier today, the San Antonio Spurs finally unloaded sulking superstar Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan and Danny Green. Neither Leonard nor DeRozan liked the deal a lot (especially DeRozan, who stated that loyalty was dead in this day and age). Who can blame him? The Raptors basically set him away down the river after promising that he wouldn't be traded! DeRozan has a point.
As for Kawhi, he has stated that he has "no desire" to play in Toronto. Not even Drake is enough to entice him (Drake may want Leonard to "Look Alive" this season) to stay in Toronto. The Los Angeles Lakers may have missed out on an opportunity to obtain Leonard's services, but they can get him this season. It just won't be right now.
Let's take a look at what the Raptors and Lakers can offer Leonard for next season. The Lakers can offer Leonard four years and $140 million while the Raptors can offer five years for $190 million. Granted, Leonard's desire (or lack of) to play in Toronto will be enough to take the $140 million for the Lakers. As for the Clippers, I don't think anybody wants to play for the Clippers, especially since the failed core of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Chris Paul is gone. Therefore, I won't give them any consideration. Then again, Kawhi did get traded to Toronto.
The Lakers weren't going to get a deal done with San Antonio, no matter how much leverage the Lakers had in the situation. In the end, it was Gregg Popovich's call. Pops wanted Leonard out to Toronto and got a budding star in DeRozan out of the deal. This does make it easier for the Lakers to obtain Leonard since Toronto seems more willing to work with the Lakers than San Antonio ever was.
There's still the elephant in the room for the Lakers in Luol Deng's $36 million that he's due the next two seasons. Where do the Lakers unload it? Will a team like the Brooklyn Nets pick up Deng's salary? Will the Raptors pick up Deng's salary? The Lakers may have to facilitate a three-team trade to make this work.
In any case, if the Lakers still want Kawhi, they probably will have to wait until the trade deadline to make a deal happen. They will just have to rely on LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma for the time being until the time comes.
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