Rumors abound that the San Antonio Spurs and its best player, Kawhi Leonard, are having a fall out as the small forward is reportedly unhappy about how the team is handling his current rehabilitation. The two-time NBA All-Star continues to nurse a right quadriceps injury that made him miss the first 27 games of the season.
While he was able to play nine games so far, Leonard is still sidelined. A report on ESPN said that the lingering injury has caused “months of discord” between team and player and that it is having a “chilling impact” on “Leonard’s relationship with the franchise and coaching staff” at the moment.
Head coach Gregg Popovich and general manager RC Buford had since denied such allegations. Bufford insisted that “there is no issue between the Spurs organization and Kawhi” while Popovich said that the treatment is just “going slower than expected.”
Despite the comments from the Spurs’ two high-profile officials, ESPN’s Jalen Rose claimed in a recent episode of First Take that “Leonard wants out of San Antonio.” Rose cited the management’s inability to “attract elite-level, All-NBA caliber free agents” to join Leonard is one of the major reasons why the former NBA Finals MVP is disgruntled.
One of First Take’s hosts, Stephen A. Smith, backed up Rose’s claims, saying that he is “hearing the same thing.”
With that, FanSided’s Hardwood Houdini predicted that a trade with the Boston Celtics could happen soon and that the package might include either one of the Celtics’ two most promising young stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
The blog said that the only way the Spurs would approve a deal is if the Celtics bring in either Tatum or Brown to the deal, then either Marcus Morris or Marcus Smart, and another player of choice between Aron Baynes and Guerschon Yabusele.
Morris and Smart are veteran players on team-friendly contracts that the Spurs would be willing to receive. Of the two, the blog suggested that Boston should keep Smart, who had been with the club longer than Morris.
Meanwhile, the addition of either Baynes or Yabusele would give San Antonio another big man to further deepen their frontcourt. The blog then suggested that adding a high draft pick or two late first-round selections would make the offer “irresistible for the Spurs’ front office.”
Should the Celtics successfully get Leonard, the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year will join the league’s No. 1 defensive team. San Antonio is currently second to Boston in terms of defensive efficiency, as per the NBA’s official website.