Leonard can be offered a supermax extension with the San Antonio Spurs this summer in a deal worth $219million over five years.
But a shock report on Friday suggests the 2014 NBA Finals MVP will turn his back on that potential offer and risk losing close to $30m by wanting to leave in a trade.
He reportedly has his heart set on joining the Lakers, who also have the cap space to sign two top free agents.
Both James and Paul George have been heavily linked with taking their talents to the Staples Center to form a team capable of toppling the Golden State Warriors.
However, they may have to do that without Leonard for the 2018/19 season.
That’s according to ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, who suggests the Lakers do not have the right assets to interest the Spurs in brokering a trade for Leonard.
“LeBron wants to play with great players,” Wojnarowski said on ESPN.
“He said he wants to play with high IQ guys and that’s Kawhi Leonard.
“This is a MVP-calibre player in the league. It is a difficult pathway for Kawhi to get to the Lakers before his free agency in 2019.
“The Spurs are not going to be enthusiastic about doing a deal with the Lakers. The pieces with the Lakers don’t fit.
“Watch for Boston. If the Spurs do a deal, Boston has the assets and the interest in Kawhi Leonard to maybe do the kind of deal that would make more sense for the Spurs – young players and draft picks.”