Fresh off winning the NBA Finals for the Raptors, Kawhi Leonard will have an important decision to make in free agency. Does he re-sign with Toronto, or will he leave to go play somewhere else?
On Friday, Damon Jones hinted at some important news he'd be sharing with the world on Monday.
Well, Monday arrived, and Jones says the Lakers are still an option for Leonard, despite the salary cap issue they're facing at the moment. While it's easy to dismiss Jones' claims since he's not an NBA insider like Adrian Wojnarowski or Shams Charania, you may want to think about it for a moment.
Jones was teammates with LeBron James as members of the Cavaliers. After Jones retired, he went on to become James' personal shooting coach. When James returned to Cleveland, Jones was hired as a member of the Cavs' coaching staff.
During his appearance on ESPN's "Get Up" on Monday, Jones said he was told the Lakers were a "strong possibility" by "someone close to the situation" before a very hard wink, clearly indicating he's talking about James.
But Jones added Leonard won't be taking a paycut to play for the Lakers. He still wants a max deal. That puts the Lakers in a tough position because they currently don't have enough cap room, as Jalen Rose noted.
There is one way the Lakers could get the money, however, but it seems unlikely to happen. As Wojnarowski pointed out, the date the Anthony Davis trade is officially completed plays a critical role in whether the Lakers can afford Leonard or another star free agent.
If Pelicans and Lakers waited until July 30 to complete trade, Lakers could’ve had $32.5M in cap space --- enough to pursue a max level free agent. By waiting 30 days, Lakers would be acting like a team over the cap and thus allowed to use 4th overall pick in draft as salary. https://t.co/BdKtxFtvai— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 16, 2019
So you might be wondering: why don't the Lakers wait? Well, the Pelicans want the first-round pick before the draft. Also, the Pelicans have no incentive to delay the trade to benefit Los Angeles.
The Lakers may want Leonard, and Leonard may be keeping the Lakers as an option. But if Leonard wants a max contract, it seems highly unlikely a deal gets done.