The ongoing drama in San Antonio does not only affect the team’s performance in the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs, but it could also result in the inevitable divorce between Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs. Multiple signs are pointing out that the Spurs will move the disgruntled superstar this summer, with the Los Angeles Lakers emerging as the top trade destination.
However, according to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the Lakers are “hesitant” to give up young players like Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs. Even if the Lakers don’t make a move in the upcoming offseason, one league executive reportedly told Deveney that Leonard will consider heading to Los Angeles when he becomes a free agent in 2019. Deveney believes the Lakers’ unwillingness to make a deal this summer could give the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers the opportunity to add a superstar to their team.
“A team like Philadelphia, which will have a lottery selection and late first-round pick in this year’s draft, or Boston (No. 27 this year, and as many as four picks next year) could gamble on Leonard as a potential championship piece and hope that he could be convinced to re-sign next summer.”
Deveney explained why the Celtics and the Sixers should gamble multiple trade assets for a potential one-year rental superstar like Kawhi Leonard by using Paul George as an example. Last offseason, rumors circulated that George wanted to play for the Lakers, forcing the Indiana Pacers to send him to the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, after a season playing alongside Russell Westbrook, George changed his mind and expressed his intention to re-sign with the Thunder in the upcoming offseason.
The same thing could happen with Leonard if ever the Celtics or the Sixers succeed to acquire him this summer. Either team could use the entire 2018-19 NBA season to show the All-Star forward why he should sign an extension and be part of their long-term future. The idea of winning multiple NBA championship titles with Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Al Horford could be the Celtics’ main pitch for Leonard.
Meanwhile, the Sixers are currently one of the rising teams in the Eastern Conference with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons showing their potential to become superstars in the league. The addition of Leonard will make them a team to fear in the East and one of the best defensive teams. Aside from trading multiple draft picks, the Celtics will be needing to give up either Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum, while the Sixers could explore a trade package centered on Markelle Fultz.