Kawhi Leonard trade talks CRUCIAL to LeBron James free agency decision

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Covington is as much a paragon of the Sixers' development efforts as any player of The Process era, emerging from an undrafted free agent to a key starter the team inked to a long-term extension last fall.

For now, the urgency of the Lakers July 1 free agent push for LeBron James and Paul George places a clock on its talks with the Spurs.

San Antonio has informed teams its preferred target in any Leonard trade is the Celtics' Jayson Tatum, sources say.

Leonard is eligible to sign a five-year, $219 million super max contract with the Spurs this summer.

However, the ESPN report adds that the Spurs are in no rush to get a deal done and will not be pressured into making a deal.

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However, according to a new report co-authored by ESPN insiders Ramona Shelburne, Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst, Los Angeles executives have ramped up their pursuit of disgruntled Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard knowing he would likely sway James' free agency intentions in their favour. James has until late Friday night to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

They're also still hoping to find a way to fix their fractured relationship with the 26-year-old but a huge offer from the Lakers may convince them to part with the wantaway forward. The Spurs are seeking more in return, and it's hard to believe that one unproven player and a future draft pick that might be close to a second-rounder would be almost enough.

This knowledge is big for the Spurs and more of a reason that this could take long. San Antonio has plenty of time to sift through offers and make the best trade.

That puts the Lakers in an even tougher spot - do they give up the assets for Leonard now, or wait until he can sign with them next year?

Lakers drafted Julius Randle with their 7th pick in the 2014 draft and were adamant he would be a huge part of their future with his breakout season averaging 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game while only playing 26 minutes, sharing minutes with Kuzma.

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