The thinking in Los Angeles is if the Lakers can acquire Leonard, it increases their chances at luring James and/or George as well. A Southern California native, Leonard reportedly wants to defect to the Lakers, but that team has a hard choice to make in terms of how many assets to offer the Spurs in a trade, as opposed to possibly being able to wait a year and sign him in free agency. It has always been expected that Brown would have to be the centerpiece of any Boston package for Leonard, along with next year's Sacramento pick.
According to a separate ESPN report, James is unlikely to visit other teams or take an audience with suitors as he did in past free-agent circuits. For weeks, the Sixers have been discussed as a potential landing spot for Leonard in a trade, especially after acquiring a future first-round pick in 2021 during the draft, with the Spurs, and according to a recent report, an offer may have already been made.
George is reportedly "seriously considering" a return to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but has not ruled out the Lakers either. They'd likely be happy to deal some of their young players like Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma if they were certain they could land two of the three with LeBron, Leonard, and Paul George, but that does not appear to be a guarantee at this time. But if Leonard is set on going to Los Angeles next year, Ainge probably won't want to part with much, and would likely be unwilling to give up Jaylen Brown, who was one of Boston's most reliable players in just his second National Basketball Association season.
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"LeBron has more than earned the right to approach his contracts the way he does", Altman said. That could drive up the price for Leonard, an unusual scenario for a player so close to free agency (and coming off an injury that cost him 73 games last season). The agent reasoned that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich only wants to compete for championships, and keeping Leonard helps him accomplish that, regardless of Leonard's wishes.
Making things even trickier is that James wants to make a quick decision about where he's headed next once free agency begins on July 1, per ESPN.
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