The Kawhi Leonard-San Antonio Spurs saga has continued to unfold as the regular season slowly comes down to an end. A recent report by FanSided’s Sir Charles in Charge said that the team might end up trading the former NBA Finals MVP to his hometown squad, the Los Angeles Lakers, this summer if head coach Gregg Popovich does not convince him to stay.
ESPN recently reported that Leonard has remained sidelined after he went back to New York last Monday to resume recovery from his chronic quadriceps injury that allowed him to only play nine games this season. It was the 26-year-old’s second trip to the third-party medical facility, and the timetable for his potential return to the basketball court is still unknown.
Meanwhile, San Antonio (44-32) moved up to fourth in the West after winning seven of their last nine games. With only six games left in their regular season campaign, the Spurs are almost sure of a spot in this year’s playoffs with only the seeding waiting to be decided.
There are reports that the Lakers are interested in trading for the Los Angeles native as he had also emerged as a top free agent target for the Hollywood squad next year. A Lakers Nation podcast in late February talked about a possible summer trade that would send Lonzo Ball and some draft picks to San Antonio in exchange for Leonard, and the rumors have only gotten louder since then.
Sir Charles In Charge’s David Early said in his article that the Spurs might be forced to trade Leonard to the Lakers in the coming offseason if Popovich fails to persuade him to remain in San Antonio. The Lakers have become a top trade partner for the Spurs as the reporter noted that they could offer “commensurate value in return” for the former San Diego State standout “without necessitating a multi-year rebuild.”
Trading Leonard this coming offseason could mean that his current injury issues are an “ongoing concern” for the Spurs. Dealing him to the Lakers would also be “doing right” by the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year as San Antonio grants him his wish of playing for his hometown club, Early said.
The reporter then noted that even if the Spurs ultimately gives him a supermax extension this summer, the possibility of Leonard getting traded is still there as soon as he becomes trade-eligible in September of next year. That is assuming that the rumored declining relationship between the team and player would become unfixable by then.