Lakers president Magic Johnson ‘facing pressure to trade for Spurs star Leonard’ in order to sign LeBron James as a free agent

By ALEX RASKIN FOR DAILYMAIL.COM and ASSOCIATED PRESS

Whereas the entire league usually waits on LeBron James to make the first move, the 2018 NBA off-season is predicated on the ultimate destination of San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi LeonardAs opposed to the last two times LeBron James hit the free agent market, when all other off-season moves seemed predicated on his decision, it’s the ultimate destination of San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard that could determine where the Cleveland Cavaliers legend lands this summer.

The Los Angeles Lakers had been seen as the logical choice for James, both because he already has a home in the area and because the franchise has enough cap space and young talent to acquire the kind of complementary players the four-time MVP would need to make a run at a fourth NBA Title.

But because the Lakers fear they won’t be able to sign All-Star free agent Paul George – a California native who is reportedly likely to re-sign in Oklahoma City – there is mounting pressure on team president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka to land Leonard in a trade, according to ESPN.

After losing to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for the third time in the last four years, James could be on the move again in search for a fourth NBA Title. James faces a Friday deadline to opt out of the final year of his existing contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers

Leonard, who has a year left on his contract, missed most of last season with mysterious quadriceps and shoulder injuries. He was rumored to be healthy enough for a return ahead of the playoffs, but chose not to, even after a tense players-only meeting was held on the matter.

Now Leonard has reportedly asked for a trade to his native Los Angeles (either the Lakers or Clippers), but the Spurs are reluctant to deal Leonard within the Western Conference.

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