LeBron James can return to free agency by opting out of the final year of his contract in the next two weeks.
With the clock ticking for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team reached out to the San Antonio Spurs to inquire about Kawhi Leonard’s availability via trade, per Cleveland.com.
A separate report from The Athletic linked the Phoenix Suns to Leonard. However, the Arizona Republic said any interest from Suns general manager Ryan McDonough would not include trading the No. 1 overall pick in this week’s draft.
Reports surfaced over the weekend that Leonard is determined to play elsewhere despite an Express-News report earlier that said a plan is in place for the All-Star to sit down and discuss “any issues or concerns Leonard may have. The goal is to hopefully come to a decision” about a possible five-year, $219 million supermax extension with the Spurs that the two-time first-team All-NBA guard is eligible to sign this offseason.
Leonard was supposed to meet with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich this week to resolve tension that arose during the All-Star’s lengthy absence last season due to quadriceps tendinopathy, which limited him to just nine games. The two have reportedly had conversations, but haven’t met in person.
The ESPN report says that Leonard has his eye on playing in Los Angeles, preferably for the Lakers. It adds that the Boston Celtics — who made trade overtures for Leonard before the trade deadline — are expected to be a major suitor.
A widely held opinion from NBA observers is James is ready to leave Cleveland in free agency for a second time.
Because of a trade deadline deal with the Cavaliers, the Lakers have enough cap space to absorb two “max” slots, and are interested in Paul George and James.
McDonough appeared to backpedal on his stated intention to push Phoenix into a rapid turnaround after the Suns scored the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery. McDonough initially said he was open to trading the pick, but Phoenix now appears locked in on using the selection. This is the first time the team has ever had the No. 1 pick in the draft.
—Field Level Media