The market for forwards this offseason has the potential to be completely insane. LeBron James has the flexibility to hit the open market as a free agent if he declines the player option in his contract. Kawhi Leonard could be on the trade block if his relationship with the San Antonio Spurs gets to the point where they decide to go their separate ways.
If they both are available this offseason, it stands to reason that teams across the league are going to do whatever it takes to acquire them, as they’re two of the best basketball players in the world. On Monday’s edition of SportsNation, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggested that it’s possible that there’s a “link” between the two players heading into the summer.
“What happens to Kawhi Leonard is a link to what happens to LeBron,” Windhorst said. “Where Kawhi ends up this season will have a direct impact on where LeBron ends up. Even if they don’t play together, they are going to be linked in where their futures are gonna be.”
It’s an important distinction that the two won’t be necessarily be linked in that they’ll become teammates, but rather, it would stand to reason that teams in the market for one would be interested in the other. If a team needs a small forward and their top target is Leonard, but he’s traded elsewhere, James is hardly a bad consolation prize and vice versa.
Windhorst also made it clear that there are paths that could conceivably lead to the pair teaming up. He remarked that it’s possible that anything can happen if Cleveland doesn’t make the NBA Finals, saying “If the Cavs get knocked out before the Finals, and LeBron has six weeks to think about things and six weeks to get in touch with Kawhi, things could get a little crazy.”
The entire situation is fascinating to think about, because there are teams out there that could conceivably add both guys. Even if that doesn’t end up happening when the dust settles, it doesn’t take a whole lot of mental gymnastics to see how a team’s successes or failures in getting one would have a monumental impact on the course the other player takes this offseason. And if a team could find a way to add them both, that would be insane and obviously vault them to near the front of the line in the NBA.
Of course, it’s also possible that Leonard can mend things with San Antonio (or that things aren’t even as bad as speculated in the first place) and James just stays with the Cavaliers. We’re at the point of the year where speculation runs rampant, so anything is possible.