The Boston Celtics are one of the NBA teams expected to pursue Kawhi Leonard once the San Antonio Spurs make him available on the trade market in the upcoming offseason. The Celtics currently have enough trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal. In several NBA trade rumors linking Boston to Leonard, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum emerge as the likely trade pieces.
However, ESPN suggested a more interesting trade scenario that will benefit both the Spurs and the Celtics. In the proposed trade deal, the Spurs will be sending Kawhi Leonard to Boston for Kyrie Irving and the Celtics’ own 2018 first-round pick. The inclusion of Irving in the trade will surely raise eyebrows among Celtics fans, but ESPN‘s Amin Elhassan believes the deal should be a “no-brainer” for the Celtics.
“This is an aggressive play for Leonard, to be sure, but in a league increasingly favoring offenses that are predicated on preventing ball-stopping, while highly valuing the ability to switch everything defensively, it’s not hard to see how this is a no-brainer for Boston.”
Irving and Leonard both suffered injuries during the regular season that prevented them from joining their respective teams in the playoffs. Irving is currently recovering from a knee surgery, while Leonard is still rehabbing and consulting a specialist in New York. However, both superstars are expected to be fully healthy before the start of the 2018-19 NBA season.
As Elhassan noted, the acquisition of Kawhi Leonard will give the Celtics a roster that could “legitimately contend” with the Golden State Warriors. Leonard is not only another scoring threat, but someone who can be trusted to guard superstar forwards like Kevin Durant and LeBron James. With Irving potentially being sent to the Spurs, the Celtics should prioritize re-signing Marcus Smart in the upcoming free agency. Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens could make Gordon Hayward their new playmaker to fill up the hole left by Irving.
Trading Kawhi Leonard for Kyrie Irving makes a lot of sense for the Spurs, especially if they fail to rekindle their good relationship with the All-Star forward. With Tony Parker already on the downside of his career and Dejounte Murray still far from becoming a superstar, the Spurs will undeniably benefit from the arrival of Irving. He could be an even better on-court partner with LaMarcus Aldridge, who managed to regain his All-Star form during the absence of Leonard.
However, before making Leonard available on the trading block, coach Gregg Popovich first plans to meet the disgruntled superstar in New York to address the issue surrounding the team, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPN. The Spurs faced the same situation last offseason involving LaMarcus Aldridge, where Popovich succeed to solve the problem. Popovich, Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford, and Leonard’s Spurs teammates are all hoping that All-Star forward will decide to stay with the team in the years to come.