The possibility of the San Antonio Spurs trading Kawhi Leonard this summer remains one of the hottest topics in the current NBA rumor mill. Multiple teams are said to be interested in Leonard’s availability, and the New York Knicks have recently emerged as a potential landing spot for the two-time NBA All-Star, according to FanSided’s Daily Knicks.
ESPN analyst Brian Windhorst recently disclosed in an episode of Outside The Lines that “teams will call the Spurs” this summer and “inquire about the availability of Kawhi Leonard.” Windhorst noted that “there is no great communication” between the player and team, which could lead to the former requesting a trade out of San Antonio this coming offseason.
According to reports, Leonard is currently in New York with his own team of doctors to continue rehabbing his lingering quad issues as the Spurs try to get a berth in this year’s playoffs. The former NBA Finals MVP has only played nine games this season due to the injury.
Daily Knicks’ Maxwell Ogden reported that the Knicks pursuing Leonard this summer is a “realistic possibility.” Like the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers, two of the rumored top trade destinations for Leonard, New York also has a promising young core that may attract the interest of both San Antonio and the former San Diego State star.
Ogden said a trade package that headlines rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina with a couple of future draft picks might get the Spurs’ approval to give up Leonard.
Ntilikina was selected eighth in last year’s NBA draft, ahead of more recognized fellow rookies Dennis Smith Jr., Donovan Mitchell, and Kyle Kuzma. He is averaging only 5.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in 21.4 minutes per game and shooting 35.7 percent from the field, but the 19-year-old Frenchman is seen as a player of high potential.
Head coach Jeff Hornacek recently told the New York Post that Ntilikina would have to learn to adjust to the speed of the NBA’s game if he wants to become a star in the future. Aside from that, Hornacek is said to be preparing him to handle an extended playing time as he becomes a candidate to start at point guard next season.
However, there are rumors that Hornacek could be replaced in the offseason and along with it is the possibility of Ntilikina being traded as well.
Meanwhile, pairing Leonard with Kristaps Porzingis would instantly make New York an elite defensive team in the East, Ogden said. Porzingis is second only to Anthony Davis in blocked shots per game and ranks first in lowering the opponent’s field goal percentage around the rim.
Leonard is a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year who has made a name as one of the best, if not the best, two-way players in the league right now. He is only 26 years old, and many analysts believe that he is just about to enter his prime.