LeBron James Free Agency Rumors: Declines Player Option, Will Hit Open Market


Some of the teams interested in Leonard could be dissuaded should the Los Angeles native make clear to teams interested in him that he would only be a one-year rental before signing with the Lakers in 2019.

The San Antonio Spurs reportedly aren't in a hurry to trade Kawhi Leonard.

While Magic Johnson plays it cool regarding his chances to add major free agents to the Los Angeles Lakers, pressure to create his own superteam in L.A. may be mounting behind the scenes. With a potential package presumably focusing on Tobias Harris and perhaps young players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and/or Jerome Robinson, Los Angeles could emerge as a suitor for the two-way star. They want to get the trade over and done with so they can focus their energies in convincing the Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James to sign with them once Leonard is in place.

But the Cavaliers were swept by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals earlier this month and James makes no secret of wanting to play on a team that can challenge the Warriors, winners of three titles in four seasons, for NBA crowns.

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"Kawhi Leonard to miss birthday party (return from injury management)", one fan said in relation to this past season's Spurs injury report. The Lakers are determined to trade for the 2014 Finals Most Valuable Player at the soonest possible time. The Spurs, however, had apparently not been open to trade talks with the Lakers and in general seemed content to let teams call in with offers as they decided what to do. A lot will depend on what James and George decide to do in free agency and if the Spurs decide they're only sending Leonard to the Eastern Conference. Before he joined the Heat, James had meetings with the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers, where team representatives pitched the All-Star with personalized presentations and marketing plans.

According to Smith, Durant did not see much reason to leave the Warriors, with whom he has won two straight National Basketball Association titles and Finals MVP awards, but Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com subsequently threw cold water on the report.

It will be hard for the Lakers to get a deal done in a one-on-one swap.

So far, it remains unknown why the trade negotiation between the Spurs and the Celtics didn't come to fruition. The Lakers have always been considered as the lead candidate to secure LeBron should he opt to leave OH for a second time and signing Leonard would make their pitch even more convincing.