Based on most reports that San Antonio Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard has allegedly demanded to be traded elsewhere, the Los Angeles Lakers appear to be the team Leonard is most interested in playing for in the 2018-19 season. However, that doesn’t mean other teams aren’t interested in acquiring the services of the versatile 26-year-old forward/guard, and one of those teams appears to be the Cleveland Cavaliers, who may or may not be entering the 2018-19 NBA season with their own franchise player and four-time MVP winner, LeBron James.
In a report published Saturday on Cleveland Plain Dealer, veteran basketball journalist Terry Pluto wrote that the Cavaliers are among the teams “making calls” to the San Antonio Spurs and inquiring about Leonard in hopes of swinging a deal for the reportedly disgruntled star. While Leonard will likely provide the Cavs with scoring, defense, and all-around versatility, despite his recent injury struggles, Pluto added that it might be hard for Cleveland to acquire him, especially since he has only one year remaining on his current contract.
Discussing why the Cavaliers might not benefit from a Kawhi Leonard trade, Pluto mentioned the example of Paul George, who was traded by the Indiana Pacers to the Oklahoma City Thunder last season with one year left on his contract and is reportedly interested in signing with the Lakers in 2018-19. While the Thunder essentially rented George for one year, youngsters Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis put up much-improved numbers after being sent from Oklahoma City to Indiana, and are expected to remain key parts of the Pacers nucleus for multiple seasons to come.
Aside from the fact that Kawhi Leonard’s contract expires after the 2018-19 season, teams are reportedly concerned about trading for someone with the injury history that he has. Pluto noted that Leonard was sidelined with a major ankle sprain when the Spurs made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2017, but stressed that his quad injury remains the primary concern at the moment, as it limited him to only nine games last season.
Even then, the rumors of the Cavs trading for Leonard were intriguing enough for Cavaliers Nation to speculate that this might be an attempt on Cleveland’s part to convince LeBron James to stay with the team instead of testing the free agency waters this offseason.
Should the Cavaliers really be interested in acquiring Kawhi Leonard via trade, Pluto mentioned Kevin Love as an “attractive” option to send to San Antonio, given that he will be making $24 million in 2018-19 and has a $25 million player option for 2019-20. This is in line with a trade scenario suggested by King James Gospel and reported on recently by the Inquisitr, where the Cavs would get Leonard while trading Love and the No. 8 pick in this year’s NBA Draft to the Spurs.
However, Pluto opined that it would be more interesting to see what Cleveland does with its draft selection, as the team could either go with Oklahoma point guard Trae Young or Villanova small forward Mikal Bridges.