Kawhi Leonard trade rumors have continued to dominate the rumor mill as more speculation regarding the future of the San Antonio Spurs' forward comes out. In a recent episode of ESPN's NBA Countdown, Jalen Rose claimed that Leonard is likely to join the Boston Celtics via a trade this summer if the relationship between the player and the club does not improve soon.
During the program, the former NBA player and current ESPN analyst said he thinks Leonard "has played his final game with the Spurs" and that the latest rumor is "really unfortunate" for both sides. Rose, who is a known Spurs and Leonard fan, mentioned that the team's alleged misdiagnosis of his quad injury has made the two-time All-Star lose his trust on the franchise.
The Spurs have also lost their confidence on Leonard as well, Rose said, after the team's medical staff had cleared him to play while he chose to abide by the recommendation of his personal doctors to stay sidelined. The analyst then said that Leonard's absence at this stage of the season, when San Antonio is trying to advance to the playoffs, is a clear indication that "he is not going to sign an extension this summer."
Leonard, 26, is currently in New York to rehab his injured leg, and the Spurs have reportedly "grown pessimistic" that the former NBA Finals MVP will still suit up for the team this season, according to CBS Sports' Colin Ward-Henninger.
Ward-Henninger also said that head coach Gregg Popovich had implied "a lack of communication" between the Spurs and Leonard's "group" regarding the current status of his injury.
"I don't know when he and his group are going to feel like they are ready to go," Popovich said prior to the team's game versus the Houston Rockets on Sunday night. "If I knew, he'd be here. When he and his group feel he's ready, then he'll be ready."The growing disconnect between Leonard and the Spurs has made the media concoct various rumors about his future. Rose, for one, believes that the Celtics have become a top landing spot for Leonard this summer should San Antonio finally decide to trade him.
Rose said that he expects Leonard to try to get as physically healthy as possible in time for the offseason and to enter a situation "that is going to make him happy" and that "it is not (going to be) in San Antonio."
The former NBA Most Improved Player then continued that the Celtics could offer Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum plus Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier to the Spurs to get Leonard. However, teaming up the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward would instantly make Boston an elite team in the Eastern Conference, Rose implied.