After being eliminated in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs are expected to prioritize meeting with Kawhi Leonard in the upcoming offseason. Michael C. Wright of ESPN reported last month that Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich will lead a squad that will talk to Leonard about the drama surrounding the team. The Spurs remains optimistic that the All-Star forward still intends to be part of the team’s long-term plan.
However, the latest NBA rumors revealed that the relationship between Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs continues to worsen. According to Hall-of-Fame basketball writer Peter Vecsey (h/t Sam Amico of Amico Hoops), the Spurs are already “done” with Leonard and will make him available on the trade market in the upcoming offseason. A source reportedly told Vecsey that Coach Gregg Popovich no longer wants Leonard to attend the team’s practice and asked the staffs to “keep him away from us.”
Leonard’s uncle was allegedly poisoning the superstar’s mind, telling him that the Spurs’ medical staff was more concerned with the team’s best interest and not his. The drama surrounding Leonard and the Spurs intensified when the All-Star forward decided to remain sidelined despite being medically cleared to play by the team’s staffs. Leonard spent the past six weeks in New York to get a second opinion regarding his injury and rehabilitation.
If what Vecsey heard from his source is true, Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs are really headed into an inevitable divorce. Several NBA teams are surely keeping an eye on the Spurs’ current situation, hoping to add Leonard to their team. In the past months, the Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as one of the top trade destinations for Leonard.
The Lakers currently have enough trade assets that can convince the Spurs to make a deal. Acquiring Leonard before the 2018 free agency starts will strengthen the Lakers’ chance of signing LeBron James or Paul George. However, a rival Western Conference executive reportedly told Vecsey that the Spurs will only consider trading Leonard to an Eastern Conference team, removing the Lakers on the list of Leonard’s potential trade destination. Some of the Eastern Conference teams who are expected to express interest in trading for Leonard this summer include the Philadelphia 76ers and the New York Knicks.