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Report: Trading for Kawhi Leonard would increase Los Angeles Lakers' chances of landing LeBron James

According to USA Today's Sam Amick, the Los Angeles Lakers would increase their chances of signing LeBron James by landing San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard.
Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Although it's been nearly a week since Kawhi Leonard reportedly requested a trade from the San Antonio Spurs, the 2014 NBA Finals MVP has yet to be moved. His future, however, continues to be linked to that of LeBron James, who can opt out of his Cleveland Cavaliers contract and hit the free agent market this summer.

One potential destination in particular for Leonard doesn't seem to bode well for Cleveland's chances of re-signing its own star player.

As has been the case since he made his wishes public late last week, the Los Angeles Lakers continue to pop up as a potential suitor in the Leonard sweepstakes. A native of Los Angeles, Leonard has reportedly let it be known he'd prefer to return to his hometown and should such homecoming come to fruition, it could have far-reaching implications.

According to USA Today's Sam Amick, if the Lakers find a way to acquire Leonard, it would "significantly increase" their odds of also landing James.

Per Amick:

If Leonard found his way to Laker Land, where he would likely make it clear that he’d re-sign as a free agent in the summer of 2019, it is widely believed that it would significantly increase the Lakers' chances of landing LeBron James in free agency this summer. And Leonard, quite clearly, had decided it was time to move on after this season that was so full of mystery and tumult.

The divide between Leonard and the Spurs had everything to do with the handling of his right quadriceps tendinopathy injury, as he had sought outside medical counsel and spent significant time away from the franchise that found itself at odds with its centerpiece. The injury cost him most of the regular season, as well as San Antonio’s first-round playoff series against Golden State, and then Leonard returned to San Diego for more rehabilitation and training when the summer arrived.

But the Spurs, who have no obligation to bend to Leonard’s request and can still offer him a five-year, $215 million extension on July 1 if they so choose, had yet to have their say. So, what does this meeting mean? It’s unclear.

Of course, there's no guaranteeing the Lakers will in fact acquire Leonard as there would stand reason to believe Gregg Popovich would be hesitant to trade him within the Western Conference. It also appears the Spurs are doing their best to smooth over their relationship with their star player, with Popovich reportedly visiting Leonard in San Diego earlier this week.

As Thursday's NBA Draft approaches, it doesn't appear a resolution is coming anytime soon.

And when it comes to the possibility of Leonard landing with the Lakers, no news appears to be good news for the Cavs.

For all the latest on James' free agency, follow our LeBron James 2018 free agency rumor tracker.

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