Since losing Kristaps Porzingis in a season-ending injury, the New York Knicks are no longer considered as a serious threat in the Eastern Conference. However, there is a growing belief that the Knicks are going to make a huge splash next season, and they could start by upgrading their roster this summer. One of their potential trade targets is Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs.
According to Mike Vacarro of New York Post, multiple signs are pointing that Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs are headed to an inevitable divorce this summer. The drama in San Antonio started when Leonard suffered an injury. The All-Star forward was reportedly unhappy with the way the team handled his situation.
Recently, the Spurs held a players-only meeting where Leonard was urged to return to the lineup and help them secure a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Leonard stood firm with his decision to sit and informed his teammates that he will only return to the court when he's fully healthy. Vacarro believes the Knicks could take advantage of the ongoing drama in San Antonio.
If the dispute continues to worsen, there is a chance that the Spurs will make Kawhi Leonard available on the trade market in the upcoming offseason. Trading him this summer will be the Spurs' best option, rather than losing him in free agency without getting anything in return. Per Spotrac, Leonard can exercise his player option to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
If the Spurs put Leonard on the trading block, the Knicks could use the opportunity to acquire another superstar who could play alongside Kristaps Porzingis. According to Vacarro, the Knicks may not have enough assets to convince the Spurs to make a deal, but they could start by offering rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina and their own 2018 first-round pick.
Kawhi Leonard is undeniably one of the major reasons why the Spurs have remained competitive in the past few years. But if he wants his way out of the team, the Spurs have no other option but to trade him in the upcoming offseason. The proposed deal will not only help the Spurs rebuild, but they will also be acquiring a potential replacement for Tony Parker, who could already be playing his final NBA season. Ntilikina will further develop his game by being guided by one of the best coaches in the league, Gregg Popovich.
Meanwhile, the potential pairing of Kawhi Leonard and Kristaps Porzingis is something everyone should watch out for next season. Since losing Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have been in dire need of another superstar who could help the Latvian center carry the team. Leonard isn't only an offensive threat, but also someone who could tremendously improve the Knicks' performance on the defensive end of the floor.