Though the situation differed in some ways (Irving had two years remaining on his contract, not one), the now former Cleveland Cavaliers star hadn't considered Boston a primary choice amongst possible destinations.
According to a previous report, the Lakers were stonewalled in earlier discussions with the Spurs, who have fielded offers from Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers and LA Clippers, per the ESPN article.
The Spurs have wanted to find a way to fix the franchise's relationship with Leonard, but an overwhelming Lakers offer could convince San Antonio to part with its franchise star, league sources said.
With Paul George still reportedly undecided on leaving Oklahoma City, despite the almost two years long rumors of him bolting to Los Angeles, the Lakers have little choice but to improve their package for Leonard. They'd likely be happy to deal some of their young players like Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma if they were certain they could land two of the three with LeBron, Leonard, and Paul George, but that does not appear to be a guarantee at this time.More news: Kroos relieved to make amends for Germany
The challenge to woo the Spurs into shipping Leonard to L.A., however, is daunting. Leonard can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season. According to Sam Amick of USA Today Sports, San Antonio does not want to trade Leonard within the Western Conference. Kuzma was one of the NBA's best rookies last season, tied for the team lead with 16.1 points per game after being taken with the 27th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Leonard and James would be quite the formidable duo, and there's no doubt they and the rest of the team would reach their full potential under head coach Gregg Popovich.
The Spurs do not have to rush to make a deal, as they could potentially wait until the trade deadline to finally pull the trigger. Free agency is days away, and reports suggest James wants to make his free agency decision quickly.
That help would most likely come in the form of Kawhi Leonard or Paul George - or, ideally, both - but there are some other possibilities, including Chris Paul, James's longtime friend.