The Boston Celtics are viewed as a natural landing spot for Kawhi Leonard if ever the San Antonio Spurs decide to dangle their All-Star winger in trade talks. Armed with a deep stash of assets, the Celtics are poised to make another huge offseason acquisition following the blockbuster trade that netted them All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving.
NBA analyst Arthur Hill of Hoops Rumors also feels the same way with regard to the Celtics’ ability to add one more major piece to their championship puzzle this coming summer. While Anthony Davis remains the best available talent out there, Boston and other teams are beginning to realize that a trade for the do-it-all forward is not viable at the moment.
The New Orleans Pelicans aren’t going to let their franchise player walk away now that Davis seems on his way to dominating the league for the next five to eight years. Barring a miracle, Davis is a lock in New Orleans for the next two seasons until he hits the market in 2020 the earliest.
With “Unibrow” presumably off the market, everyone’s attention now shifts on Leonard whose tenure with the San Antonio Spurs has become a bit rocky because of a reported disconnect between him and the organization.
In the latest Hoops Rumors mailbag, Hill stressed that the summer of 2018 once again presents an opportunity for Danny Ainge to soup up their already vaunted roster. On the other hand, the analyst pointed out the consequences of upgrading their lineup via trade, saying a deal for Leonard would basically require them to give up one of their big earners – possibly Al Horford – along with a promising player and a high draft pick. Still, he believes the Celtics front office will place an offer on the table for Kawhi, especially if he doesn’t get a super-max deal (five-year, $219 million) from the Spurs this summer.
“We don’t know how much of the rumored behind-the-scenes feud is true, but the Spurs are facing a difficult decision on a star player who has only been on the court for nine games this season. If they can’t work out an extension, San Antonio will start to look at trades and the Celtics will surely make an offer.”
The 26-year-old Leonard had already accomplished so many feats (two-time Defensive Player of the Year, All-NBA first team, and All-Star) early in his career before blossoming into a dominant two-way player last season.
Many NBA pundits picked Kawhi an early favorite to win the NBA regular-season MVP coming off a breakout season (25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 33 minutes per game). Unfortunately, a nagging quad injury derailed a year full of promise as Leonard has only played nine games so far.
There were reports indicating Leonard’s possible return to the Spurs lineup this week, but Michael C. Wright of ESPN broke the news on Wednesday that the Spurs star player will remain out until he gets medically cleared to play. Head coach Gregg Popovich confirmed that he had a discussion with Leonard before he made the decision to postpone his return, insisting that the player’s long-term health comes as a top priority.