The Los Angeles Lakers were not directly involved with the Kawhi Leonard trade, but there are multiple ramifications that could benefit the organization in the long-term.
With news that the Toronto Raptors traded DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Leonard and Danny Green, the Lakers were officially taken out of the immediate running. It was a future win for the purple and gold, though.
According to multiple reports, Leonard is not happy to be joining the Raptors, with his preferred destination always being in Los Angeles. With just one year remaining on his contract, Leonard is set to become a free agent following the 2018-19 season.
Not only is LeBron James in the fold, but the Lakers will not have to trade any of their young assets to acquire Leonard, should he ultimately choose to leave Toronto.
Furthermore, Leonard getting traded to what he might deem an undesirable situation only helps the Lakers. When Paul George was traded to Oklahoma City, he was surrounded by teammates and a city that embraced him. He also joined an MVP in Russell Westbrook.
Provided the Raptors don’t enjoy the same success, Leonard will likely be less inclined to stay. Therefore, the Lakers’ chances increase dramatically.
Finally, the Lakers don’t mortgage their future, and they can use 2018-19 as tryouts–of sorts–for many of their young assets. Magic Johnson and Rob Pellinka can decide which players are worth building around, and which ones might be better served as trade pieces.
The Lakers might not have acquired a player in the deal, but they are impacted greatly with the blockbuster deal.
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