Multiple NBA trade rumors continue to circulate around the league as the February 8 trade deadline approaches. Kawhi Leonard recently became part of the rumor mill, and there are speculations that he wants his way out of the San Antonio Spurs. Should the Portland Trail Blazers be interested?
The drama started to build around San Antonio after Kawhi Leonard suffered an injury. After missing most of the first half of the 2017-18 NBA season, Leonard will be out indefinitely with a quadriceps injury. According to ESPN, the treatment and the ongoing rehabilitation has damaged the relationship between the All-Star forward and the Spurs. Leonard and his camp are reportedly “distant” and “disconnected” from the organization.
On ESPN’s First Take, NBA analyst Jalen Rose revealed that Kawhi Leonard is finding his way out of the Spurs. Rose explained why Leonard already wants to leave the team he played for seven seasons.
“The reason why is tenfold. One is they’ve been unable to attract elite-level, All-NBA caliber free agents to come play with him,” Rose said (h/t USA Today Sports). “And also the way his injury situation was handled. You see him in the lineup, you see him out of the lineup. Is it his quad? What’s going on with his history? Was he misdiagnosed?”
Even Kawhi Leonard only played nine games, the Spurs have remained competitive this season and currently on the 4th spot in the Western Conference with a 30-18 record. The absence of Leonard gave LaMarcus Aldridge the opportunity to return to his All-Star form, proving that he can lead the team back to title contention. If Leonard demands a trade, it will not be a surprise if the Spurs agree, especially if they can get another superstar in return.
Ty Delbridge of Hoops Habit suggested a trade that will grant Leonard’s request and at the same time, giving the Spurs a new superstar to play alongside LaMarcus Aldridge. In the proposed deal, the Spurs will be sending Kawhi Leonard and Brandon Paul to the Portland Trail Blazers for C.J. McCollum, a 2018 first-round pick, and a 2020 first-round pick. The deal works on the ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine.
As Delbridge noted, the Spurs haven’t had an elite point guard since Tony Parker. The acquisition of C.J. McCollum will give them a reliable scorer and a ball-handler who can run their offense. In 46 games this season, McCollum is averaging 21.4 points and 3.2 assists while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from beyond the arc.
The explosive backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum is undeniably the main reason why the Trail Blazers remain as a legitimate playoff contender in the Western Conference. However, in the past four season, Portland’s only greatest achievement is reaching the second round of the playoffs.
Per Chris Haynes of ESPN, Lillard recently had a conversation with Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen to gain assurances that the organization is serious about building a title-contending team. There are speculations that Lillard may consider demanding a trade if Portland doesn’t make an upgrade on their roster.
The potential arrival of Kawhi Leonard will absolutely make a huge effect on the Trail Blazers. The “Big Three” of Leonard, Lillard, and Jusuf Nurkic will give any powerhouse teams a huge headache on both ends of the floor. However, in order to acquire Leonard, the Trail Blazers should be willing to give up C.J. McCollum in the process.