As the Los Angeles Lakers continue their pursuit of Kawhi Leonard, Ohm Youngmisuk and Bobby Marks of ESPN report that the Lakers may have to delay their blockbuster trade for Anthony Davis — a deal that involves four teams — if Leonard delays his decision past noon on Saturday.
Luckily for the Lakers, those three other teams — the New Orleans Pelicans, Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks — would reportedly cooperate if Leonard doesn’t make his free agency decision soon. Per ESPN:
“League sources told ESPN’s Bobby Marks that the Pelicans, Hawks and Wizards are expected to cooperate with the Lakers if Leonard is still undecided by noon on Saturday. The date was agreed upon initially in the Lakers’ and Pelicans’ deal sending Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart and three first-round picks for Davis. The deal was based on the Lakers using the $32 million in cap space created on a max free agent, such as Leonard or on other players available.
If the Pelicans, Hawks and Wizards do not agree to delay the date to make the trade official past Saturday should Leonard remain undecided, the Lakers’ cap space would shrink to $30 million and Los Angeles would be able to offer Leonard only a four-year deal worth $127 million compared to the four-year, $138 million contract they can offer with $32 million available in cap space.”
The Lakers have been in hot pursuit of the reigning Finals MVP since the beginning of free agency, as they compete with the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers for Leonard’s services. The Raptors offer the allure of being able to re-sign Leonard to a five-year deal worth the max of $190 million. Furthermore, they’d likely re-sign Danny Green and bring back the rest of the supporting cast from the 2019 title team.
As far as the Clippers are concerned, they’re an up-and-coming team coming off of a playoff appearance with one of the best coaches in the league in Doc Rivers. They also offer the benefit of being located near Leonard’s hometown and they would likely be able to attract other marquee free agents in the coming years.
On the other hand, the Lakers would be the overwhelming title favorites if they land Kawhi to go along with Davis and LeBron James.
Nobody knows where Leonard is leaning towards, but if he were to decide to sign with the Lakers, they would have three of the best players in the NBA and would be a difficult team to beat.