Kawhi Leonard’s time with the San Antonio Spurs is apparently numbered. He reportedly wants out of the organization, according to multiple reports.
An emotional roller coaster through the 2017-18 season saw the 26-year-old forward play only nine games, miss time away from the team completely and the relationship between Leonard and the front office apparently can’t be mended.
Should Leonard be on the move — apparently a when, not if — here are threepotential trade partners.
Any whispers of a hypothetical Kyrie Irving trade during and after the postseason seemed too hot take-y. The Celtics may have mowed their way to the Eastern Conference Finals but they didn’t get anything from Irving, who missed out on the playoffs due to injury. His presence would only be an upgrade over Terry Rozier, and perhaps the missing link — alongside a would-be healthy Gordon Hayward — to making the NBA Finals.
But instead of packing Kyrie for multiple assets, a star comes into play on the other end.
Danny Ainge up in Boston hasn’t been afraid to make moves. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Celtics called the Spurs at the trade deadline regarding Leonard, though a counter offer was never made. San Antonio wasn’t willing to deal Kawhi then, but now? It’ll likely take a couple picks on the trade scale but a Kyrie-for-Kawhi swap makes sense.
The future is bright in Philly and they’re perhaps one piece away from sitting atop the Eastern Conference hierarchy. The LeBron James-to-Philadelphia talk has simmered down a bit, but Leonard would be a damn good consolation prize, and another big tool to an uber-balanced yet young team.
There’s Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, but is Markelle Fultz part of the future? The Sixers were paces ahead of the rebuild and got there with little help from the No. 1 pick from last year’s draft. In this deal, the Spurs deal Leonard and Patty Mills for Fultz, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and the Sixers’ 2018 first-round pick.
Hey, why not?
Giving up on the Josh Jackson experiment just a year after drafting him No. 4 isn’t exactly orthodox, and unless he’s leading the package, it’s difficult to see the Spurs staying on the phone. The Suns could deal Jackson, give up on the Marquese Chriss project — if they haven’t already — and part ways with Tyson Chandler and his salary to pave an avenue for DeAndre Ayton at No. 1 overall while potentially throwing in their second first-round pick (Miami’s). Dragan Bender is also a name that could be swapped in for Jackson.
While it’s a longshot, a trio of Devin Booker, Leonard and Ayton while having either Bender or Jackson would be kind of fun, no?
Other teams that make sense: Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers.
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