After a season filled with drama and frustration, Kawhi Leonard has finally decided that he wants his way out of the San Antonio Spurs. Trading the disgruntled superstar this offseason would be the Spurs’ best option, rather than letting him walk away in the summer of 2019 as an unrestricted free agent without getting anything in return. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Boston Celtics will once again try to engage in a trade negotiation with the Spurs if Leonard becomes officially available on the trade block.
The Celtics have been interested in acquiring Kawhi Leonard since the February trade deadline. As Wojnarowski noted, Boston has the “best building blocks of assets” that can convince the Spurs to make a deal. A trade package, which could include at least one of Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum and a future first-round pick, could be enough to acquire Leonard from the Spurs. Both young players have shown their potential to become superstars in the league, and their skills will be further developed playing under Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich.
However, according to Jack Maloney of CBS Sports, trading either Brown or Tatum for Leonard will be complicated for the Celtics, especially in matching the salary. Maloney suggested a simpler way for the Celtics to add Leonard to their team this summer.
“The problem is that even if the Celtics were willing to part with Jayson Tatum (unlikely) or Jaylen Brown (possible), both players make far less than Leonard, and trying to match money gets pretty complicated. It would make more sense, both money- and talent-wise, for the Celtics to move one of their stars in any potential trade. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just go with Kyrie Irving and the Memphis Grizzlies’ 2019 first-round pick the Celtics own for Leonard.”
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) June 15, 2018
In the suggested trade scenario, the Celtics would send Kyrie Irving and the Memphis Grizzlies’ 2019 first-round pick to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard. The proposed deal works on ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine. The departure of Leonard is a huge loss for the Spurs, but it will be worth trading him if they will get a superstar in return.
Kyrie Irving is currently in his prime, and no one can argue that he is the perfect replacement for Tony Parker. Aside from acquiring Irving, the Spurs will have the opportunity to add another young and promising talent next offseason using the 2019 first-round pick. The deal will undeniably be beneficial for the Celtics and the Spurs, but before proceeding with the deal, both teams should first consider getting an assurance from Irving and Leonard that they plan to stay on the team beyond the 2019 offseason.