Rumors of Kawhi Leonard being dealt from the San Antonio Spurs this summer have heated up in recent months. By now the story has been written Ad nauseam.
Leonard and the organization are coming off a 2017-18 campaign that saw the former All-NBA performer miss all but a could handfuls of games due to a quad injury he suffered in the 2017 Western Conference Finals.
It led to a major rift between the two sides, with head coach Gregg Popovich acting behind the scenes in a way that could end this relationship (more on that here).
As Leonard and Pop look to somehow salvage this marriage, multiple suitors have emerged in a potential trade. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, that includes both the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers.
“The Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers have interest in Leonard, each with a differing array of young assets to trade for him now and the potential of salary-cap space to sign Leonard outright in 2019,” the venerable NBA insider reported.
It makes perfect sense that both Los Angeles and Philadelphia would be interested in Leonard. These are among the two teams we bandied about as potential landing spots for the two-time All-Star.
Los Angeles is entering an offseason in which the team is expected to make major plays for both Paul George and LeBron James. Under the leadership of president Magic Johnson, the Lakers have created enough cap space to add two max-contract players. Adding Leonard in a trade wouldn’t necessarily hamper that possibility.
The Lakers also have assets that San Antonio might want in a deal surrounding Leonard. That includes youngsters Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma.
On the other hand, Philadelphia could center a package around 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and Euro sensation Dario Saric.
Woj does go on to report that the Spurs have been reluctant to even consider trading Leonard. That’s the crux of the issue here. If the relationship can be mended, there’s absolutely no reason for an otherwise contending Spurs squad to trade Leonard. If it’s past the point of no return, Leonard will certainly be dealt.
Financially, it makes much more sense for Leonard to remain with the Spurs on a max contract. They can offer him a five-year, $219 million extension this summer. No other team can come close.
With the NBA Draft approaching later this month, this situation will soon culminate with Leonard remaining on the Spurs or being dealt.
After all, some of the teams interested in his services could offer up a high first-round pick as part of a package for Leonard. According to Wojnarowski, that includes the Sacramento Kings and their first-round pick (second overall).