After exiting in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs, San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich, together with some staff and players, will be heading to New York to meet Kawhi Leonard and discuss his future with the team. Popovich remains optimistic that they can fix the issue between the organization and the All-Star forward. Leonard is eligible to sign a massive extension this summer; a five-year deal worth $219 million.
However, one rival executive told Frank Isola of New York Daily News that Kawhi Leonard has one condition if the Spurs want him back. Leonard demands a change in Popovich's system.
"Don't you have to sign him?" asked one rival executive. "From what I understand, he wants (Gregg) Popovich to lighten up a little with practice and tweak some things. The Spurs may not want to change their ways, but this is Kawhi Leonard we're talking about."
The system Popovich is currently executing with the team is one of the major reasons why the Spurs have remained a legitimate playoff contender in the Western Conference for more than two decades. If the two parties won't come to an agreement, Isola believes the Spurs should trade Leonard, and the New York Knicks should find a way to add him to their team. Isola added that the Knicks should be willing to sacrifice Kristaps Porzingis in the deal.
"Any deal for Leonard would have to include Kristaps Porzingis, whom the Spurs are said to be head over heels with, as well as a first-round pick. It's a steep price, but the addition of Leonard plus available cap space in the summer of 2019 could dramatically alter the course of history for the star-crossed franchise."
The Spurs would surely love the idea of trading their disgruntled superstar for Kristaps Porzingis. As Isola noted, San Antonio was "head over heels" with the Latvian center. To sweeten the deal, the Knicks could add a first-round pick. The problem with Porzingis is that he is still recovering from a knee injury that could keep him out for the rest of the 2018-19 NBA season.
However, with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili already on the verge of retirement, the Spurs may think that it is already time to undergo a full-scale rebuild. With the emergence of "Super Teams," the Spurs obviously need to make a roster overhaul to be able to return to the NBA Finals.
Meanwhile, trading Porzingis is undeniably a tough decision for the Knicks. However, acquiring Kawhi Leonard could help them immediately rise as a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference. When healthy, Leonard has proven his capability of becoming a main option on the offensive end, and still defend the opposing team's best player.