The departure of Kawhi Leonard in San Antonio is inevitable with reports from Hall-of-Fame NBA reporter Peter Vecsey revealing that Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich no longer wants to see the disgruntled superstar attending their practices. Sam Amico of Amico Hoops reported that multiple league sources indicate the Spurs will trade Leonard, but the team made it clear that they won’t be taking a junk in return.
As Amico noted, the Spurs are planning to make a roster overhaul. They are expected to demand an All-Star and a draft pick in exchange for Kawhi Leonard. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Spurs are unlikely to engage in a trade deal unless interested teams make a “grand-slam offer.”
“I’ve heard from multiple NBA executives that San Antonio won’t settle for anything less than a grand-slam offer. If offers were underwhelming around the draft and the start of free agency, the Spurs might opt to let the saga drag into training camp, or even into the season. Leonard could always rekindle his relationship with the team, or return to the floor and increase his trade value.”
If the Spurs want an All-Star and a draft pick in return, the Charlotte Hornets and the Cleveland Cavaliers could be a potential landing spot for Leonard this summer. The Hornets could explore a trade package centered on Kemba Walker, while the Cavaliers may consider sending Kevin Love and the No. 8 pick in the 2018 NBA draft for Leonard. However, even without offering an All-Star, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers might be a more intriguing trade partner for the Spurs.
With their failure to fully dominate the Eastern Conference, the Sixers are expected to make a huge roster upgrade in the upcoming offseason. Multiple NBA rumors suggested that the Sixers might pursue LeBron James in the free agency market, but if they fail, Tyler Monahan of SB Nation’s Liberty Ballers believes Kawhi Leonard would be their “next best option.” As Monahan suggested, Sixers rookie Markelle Fultz could be the “most crucial piece” of the trade package for Leonard. They may also need to include Dario Saric and a future draft pick to convince the Spurs to make a deal.
Meanwhile, since the drama between Leonard and the Spurs started, rumors continue to circulate that the disgruntled superstar wants to play for his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Like the Sixers, the Lakers currently have enough assets to engage in a blockbuster trade. If Leonard will give them an assurance that he plans to stay long-term, the Lakers could be willing to sacrifice at least one of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, or Kyle Kuzma.
Expect more rumors to swirl around Kawhi Leonard as the 2018 offseason draws near.