Rumors abound that this could be Kawhi Leonard’s last season with the San Antonio Spurs as the two-time NBA All-Star is reportedly away from the team while they scramble to qualify for the playoffs. Several teams are linked to the Spurs for a possible Leonard trade this summer, and one of them is the Portland Trail Blazers with shooting guard C.J. McCollum as the main trade piece, says FanSided‘s Sir Charles In Charge.
While the Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as the top trade partner for San Antonio when it comes to dealing Leonard, Sir Charles In Charge‘s Dan Knitzer opined that a deal with L.A. “would be so dependent on the moves of LeBron James and Paul George” that the Spurs are better off looking elsewhere.
If the Lakers succeed in their attempt to sign the said two superstars, then a Leonard trade is expected to go down on the Hollywood squad’s list of priorities. Thus, the Spurs should try to look at other potential landing spots for the former NBA Finals MVP, Knitzer said.
Knitzer listed three teams as possible destinations for Leonard and the last one he mentioned was the Blazers. According to the report, San Antonio could offer the former San Diego State star and a minimum contract (to balance out the salaries) to Portland in exchange for McCollum. If Leonard’s heart is really not with the Spurs anymore, then acquiring an elite shooter like McCollum, who is said to be perfect for Gregg Popovich’s system, would be a steal for San Antonio.
According to ESPN, the 26-year-old Leonard is currently in a third-party medical facility in New York to continue mending his chronic right quad issues. He has only played nine games for the Spurs this season because of the injury. There are speculations that he is blaming team doctors for misdiagnosing his condition, which resulted in rumored tensions between the club and the player.
Meanwhile, San Antonio is in the thick of the fight for a place in this year’s postseason. The team has climbed up to fourth from sixth in the West standings, three games behind the third-place Blazers, after winning eight of their last 10 games.
McCollum, also 26, has continued to play superbly for Portland as Damian Lillard’s sidekick. The 2016 NBA Most Improved Player averages 21.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.0 steals in 36.1 minutes per game for head coach Terry Stotts, helping them secure the third spot in the West.
While it does not seem to make sense for the Blazers to break up the Lillard-McCollum backcourt combo, Knitzer said that Portland badly needs a boost on the defensive end of the floor. Although the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year’s shooting is not on McCollum’s level, Leonard can also hold his own on offense, which makes the trade worth it in the long run.