Kawhi still wants to be a Laker after LeBron signing

Kawhi Leonard and Gregg Popovich

Now that the Lakers were able to get LeBron James to sign, the desperate need to trade for Leonard in order to convince LeBron to sign is no more.

LeBron James is leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 4-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The fact that he didn't pick up his option could be good news for anxious Cavs fans, who fear James may leave them for the second time in his career.

That would be an unprecedented move, to have a player sit out and wait for the next summer's free-agent period. Leonard wants a trade to the Lakers now, and he has expressed his desire to sign with them in free agency in 2019. But there are at least three other teams - and maybe an outsider or two - with legitimate shots at landing James, who made it clear following this year's NBA Finals that he's still driven to win championships. James has until Friday to decide on his contract option, and free agency begins July 1.

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The decision to decline the option for 2018-19 was expected by James because it gives him more options, which includes him re-signing with the Cavs, who can offer him a five-year, $209 million contract.

James put down some roots on the West Coast with two homes in the Los Angeles area and a film production company. Much of it had to do directly with discrepancies between his camp and the team's doctors about the nature and severity of his injury, along with a time-line for recovery. Maybe James doesn't come, and the Lakers have to settle for Plan B. And what if Leonard becomes smitten with wherever he's traded and decides to re-sign there next season?

Lakers are dealing out most of their youth to land all-time greats Leonard and James, with a possible trade situation including late first round gem Kyle Kuzma and promising star Brandon Ingram getting comparisons to Kevin Durant. In fact, James might not even speak with top team officials before making a decision on his destination for next season.

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