The Los Angeles Lakers re-engaged the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday in search of an exchange for All-NBA striker Kawhi Leonard, the league's sources told ESPN.
What is at stake is huge, because the teams believe The deal with Leonard would probably give LeBron James a free agent commitment to the Lakers. James has until Friday night to opt out of the last year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Spurs have wanted to find a way to repair the relationship of the franchise with Leonard, but an overwhelming offer from the Lakers could convince San Antonio on behalf of their franchise star, league sources said.
The Lakers are using the trades Paul George and Kyrie Irving as proportional models for an agreement with Leonard, but San Antonio understands that this exchange, for all intents and purposes, would mean Leonard and James coming to the Lakers; and is likely to lead a mbadive pack of young players and draft picks for Leonard, a two-time NBA player and first NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
The Lakers are in no hurry to sign the 25th overall selection in Thursday's NBA draft, Michigan forward Mo Wagner, to their rookie scale deal, which would allow the Lakers to include their rights in a Exchange package, league sources said. Wagner could not be traded for 30 days once he signs his rookie contract.
The Lakers are looking for an additional first-round selection in the trade market, offering to incur a salary booty of contracts to obtain a selection, league sources
As ESPN previously reported, there is a race to insure Leonard before James faces a decision in free agency, especially with the concern that Paul George of Oklahoma City is no longer confident of signing with the Lakers, league sources said.
James' other preference that could affect free agency, baduming he chooses not to participate before Friday's deadline, is that he wants to make a decision quickly in free agency in July, league sources said.
Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers and LA Clippers are among the teams that have made offers to the Spurs for Leonard, league sources said. The Lakers, the franchise to which Leonard wants to be traded, did not have an encouraging initial conversation with the Spurs, ESPN reported recently.
If Leonard can convince the rest of the teams interested in trading for him, that there will only be one year's rent before signing with Los Angeles in 2019, the Lakers could have the most compelling commercial package to offer San Antonio
The situation has become similar to the Lakers' with the Indiana Pacers last year, when George informed the Pacers that he intended to sign with the Lakers as a free agent in 2018. As such, the Lakers never made an offer Substantial to Indiana, as the second pick of the 2017 draft, or Brandon Ingram, as he hoped that George would come to them this year in free agency. But now, after last summer's exchange with Oklahoma City, George is seriously considering returning to the Thunder, as well as the possibility of joining the Lakers or others.
Los Angeles could risk James staying in Cleveland or leaving. Elsewhere and the Spurs exchanging Leonard for a destination where he feels comfortable and knows how to join the Lakers next year.
The Lakers have weighed the conservation of young badets and future draft recruits against the possibility of being excluded from free agency. The Lakers hoped to lure James and George into free agency, which would give them more influence in Leonard's trade negotiations, or simply the possibility of waiting until next year to sign Leonard.
Leonard's price would be substantial. The Lakers may have to deliver a combination of previous first-round picks, Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart, and future first-round picks and perhaps restricted free agent Julius Randle in a signing and trade agreement.  The Spurs could also pressure the Lakers to remove an unpleasant contract from their books. Those are all points of agreement that would apply to leverage, which belongs to the Spurs as long as Lakers president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have not yet fulfilled the promise of a free agent first line.
Johnson said Los Angeles reporters said on Tuesday that he would resign as president of the team's basketball operations if he could not send superstars through free agency or exchange in the next two summers.
While James and George have until Friday to exercise their player options in the final years of their contracts and become free agents without restrictions. Leonard can not give up his contract until next summer.
So far, the Spurs have not responded to all the teams that have asked about Leonard, nor have they ruled out the possibility of changing him to any destination in the league, sources said.
James has not ruled out going back to Cleveland, but his chances of staying with a reformed and improved squad are murky.
The Cavaliers have been working on various salary and trade compensation possibilities to be aggressive in free agency, but they have been hampered in attempts to meet or discuss scenarios with James, league sources said. James had been clear that he would not get involved with the Cavaliers during the pre-draft process and prior to free agency, and he has remained consistent with that position.
James 'unwillingness to commit beyond the 2017-18 season made "It's a challenge for the Cavs' management to make an exchange with George last summer, because George wanted a commitment from James beyond the next season to have your own, "said league sources. An agreement between George and Cleveland collapsed when the Cavs refused to check out a future first-round pick, a concession they felt they could not do without James' guarantee.
It is unlikely that the Cavaliers have traded Kyrie Irving with James and George together on the Cleveland list.
Now, the more time the Cavaliers spend without clear communication with James, the less likely they are to find a way to update the list to James's satisfaction. Cleveland would love to get involved with George's free agency or Chris Paul in concert with the hiring of James, but since the Cavs are likely to be stuck in the luxury tax, they will not be able to receive players in signage. commercial agreements, which makes getting involved in star free agency almost impossible.
Cleveland has asked for Leonard, according to sources, but the Cavaliers probably do not have the badets to head the rest of the market.
Leonard has insisted that he does not want to enter the San Antonio locker room again, and the Spurs have been adamant that they will not be forced to exchange, or schedule, before the February deadline, sources said. the league . No team that talks to the Spurs about Leonard has discovered that they are in a hurry to reach an agreement.