Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have remained in the rumor mill as the 2017-2018 regular season comes down to its last few games. One of the latest speculations about the two NBA All-Stars is from Fox Sports analyst Colin Cowherd, who said that both players might end up with the Los Angeles Lakers next season if the Hollywood squad fails to sign LeBron James this summer.
Talking in the latest episode of The Herd, the Fox Sports host said that the San Antonio Spurs have been unsuccessful in their approach to convince Leonard to return to the basketball court this season. Cowherd implied that the club has been using “guilt trip” tactics to force the former NBA Finals MVP to come back from injury as the regular season winds down and the squad scrambles to occupy a playoffs berth.
Late last month, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Spurs held a players-only meeting aimed to “implore” Leonard to play. Wojnarowski described the meeting as “tense” and “emotional” as even the veteran duo of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili went out to the media to voice their opinions regarding Leonard’s current status.
Ginobili said that the players as a group are currently in a mindset that Leonard is no longer returning even though he has not been officially ruled out for the season, per KSAT San Antonio. Parker, who led the meeting, reportedly agreed with Ginobili.
According to the report, Parker also said that his similar quad injury, which he claimed was a “hundred times worse” than Leonard’s, has not taken him to consider having a second opinion or clearance from a third-party medical team.
Cowherd said that even Gregg Popovich took “multiple veiled shots” at Leonard and his camp, citing a separate ESPN article that quoted the Spurs head coach as saying that “when he (Leonard) and his group feel he’s ready, he’ll be ready.”
The host continued that he does not believe the Spurs are taking the right approach in handling the Kawhi Leonard saga as the former San Diego State standout “needs to be loved” and to have “somebody to put their arms around him because he’s been doubted his entire life.”
Cowherd then said that Leonard was “doubted in high school, doubted in college, (and) doubted in the draft,” before insisting that the 15th overall pick of the 2011 draft “needs your arms around him,” presumably talking to the Spurs.
After that, Cowherd claimed that “if LeBron does not land” with the Lakers and if George and the Oklahoma City Thunder fails to qualify for the playoffs or “get bounced early,” then Leonard and George may eventually team up with Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram in Los Angeles.
San Antonio (45-34) is currently fifth in the West standings, only a half-game behind fourth-seed Utah Jazz, with only three games left in their regular season campaign. Oklahoma City has a similar record but is down to sixth place as they lost a tiebreaker with the Spurs. Meanwhile, the Lakers are out of the playoffs race.