Los Angeles might need Kawhi Leonard in order to swing LeBron James and Paul George to sign there as free agents.
With free agency approaching, along with Friday's deadline for LeBron James to determine whether or not he will opt-in to the last year of his contract, the Lakers front office is feeling the pressure to complete a trade with the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski report.
ESPN reports James is "hesitant" to be the first big-name player to head to Los Angeles in free agency, and there is apprehension that Paul George is no longer guaranteed to sign with the Lakers.
The Celtics, Cavaliers, 76ers and Clippers have all already made offers to the Spurs for Leonard, ESPN reports, and previously, it was reported that San Antonio "shut the door" on the Lakers when Los Angeles reached out about the two-time Defensive Player of the Year. ESPN reports the Lakers have been looking to acquire a future first-round pick on the trade market, and that pick could be used in a deal for Leonard.
Cleveland meanwhile has been trying to figure out potential moves to either create space or bring in a high-level player, but have not been hindered in their efforts to communicate with James about potential deals, ESPN reports.
On Tuesday, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson said he would step down if Los Angeles can't sign a big free agent either this summer or next summer when Leonard is expected to be on the open market.