Why the Lakers should not trade for Kawhi this season
The NBA world just saw the trade of the year, a swap deal between the Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs get Demar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected first rounder, while the Raptors receive Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. The NBA media and the fans depending on the degree of the love for these players/teams are analysing its pros and cons.
Raptors fans are excited because Leonard was the best two-way player and could finally take them to their first ever NBA final in a LeBron-less Eastern Conference but are also critical of the fact that Kawhi wants to go to LA. Spurs fans are divided on the likeability of this trade, some believe it is good as they got a four-time All-Star but some are wary because they don't believe DeRozan is good enough to take them through the West.
However, in all of the trade analysis, one name which keeps popping out is that of Magic Johnson, the president of the Lakers Basketball. Analysts everywhere are disappointed in Magic because he did not make a trade with the Spurs to get Kawhi to LA and join him with James to make a contender for the Warriors.
They are worried that with an ageing LeBron James, the chances of the Lakers maximising his talents decrease heavily every year. However, at what cost? The rumors were that the Spurs wanted Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and future first round picks, a move which would leave only a few young players in the Lakers' roster and move all the onus on LeBron and Kawhi.
The new speculation after the Raptors-Spurs deal, coming in is that Masai Ujiri would now trade Kawhi near the Trade deadline for a lesser asking price than Buford as the Raptors would go into a rebuilding phase.So, Magic even in that scenario would have to give up at least two of the young stars( Ingram, Kuzma, Hart or Lonzo-depending on their numbers this season).
This would still be a bad deal for Magic Johnson to make. The reason can be found in the Miami Heat's performance post-2014 making the playoffs only twice and Cleveland Cavaliers power ranking for next season. The Cavaliers in the trade for Kevin Love back in 2015 gave up two number 1 picks. So Magic realizes that giving up young players which himself see's have potential does not want to hamper the future.
Magic Johnson, whose main purpose to be brought into the franchise was to revive it and bring back the team to its golden years of showtime, Kobe-Shaq era. Magic in the infamous late-night meeting with LeBron explained to him that he wants to make the Lakers a Finals contender till the end of the next decade and not just limit the team to LeBron's contract and go through the same non-playoff rut.
Further even without Kawhi or any other All-Star, under the guidance of Magic, Lebron and Walton the young ones are perfectly capable of reaching the at least the western conference finals. Magic already is not getting stuck with the expensive contract and only signing 1-year deals. OKC in 2012 went to the finals, where the players were Durant(4th Year), Westbrook( 4th Year) and Harden( 3rd Year).
So, all in all, Magic Johnson should stay away from trading away any of his young players as long as he sees potential in them, because with a growing squad of Lonzo, Ingram, Kuzma, and Hart the Lakers can be a force to reckon with till 2026.