Kawhi Leonard has already been the most talked about player on the NBA trade market this offseason and the San Antonio Spurs are widely expected to deal him at some point. While the expectation is that a blockbuster trade is coming, the Spurs have remained steadfast in their desire to keep the face of their franchise in town.
Following the 2018 NBA Draft, Spurs’ general manager R.C. Buford was asked about Leonard. His answer was one that talked about a long-term future with Leonard in San Antonio, according to a report shared by Bleacher Report.
“Our goal is to keep him as a part of our program for a long time.”
San Antonio has not shopped Leonard in trade talks, although they have listened to offers that other teams have come forward with for him.
According to another report from USA Today, Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich met with Leonard in San Diego earlier this week. The meeting did not go well for San Antonio’s plans of keeping him long-term. Leonard made it clear that he would like a trade this offseason.
Last season, the drama with Leonard and the Spurs reached an all-time high. He dealt with a nagging injury all season long and was furious about public comments that Popovich and point guard Tony Parker made about him missing games. From that point forward, the relationship was never repaired and Leonard sat out the rest of the season.
Leonard would like to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Spurs have shown no inclination to grant that wish. Los Angeles reportedly reached out to the Spurs, but the two sides did not engage in serious discussions.
Back in the 2016-17 season with the Spurs, Leonard had the best season of his career. He averaged 25.5 points per game to go along with 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.8 steals.
This situation is shaping up to be the most intriguing story to follow this offseason. LeBron James’ free agency is going to be entertaining as well, but the saga with the Spurs and Leonard has many different potential outcomes.
As the offseason and free agency get underway, the Spurs will have to make a decision. They could keep Leonard and hope that they can mend the fences, or they could trade him and get a huge return for him. Either way, the rumors are just getting started surrounding potential trade destinations for Leonard.
Expect to hear more about this situation in the near future, as the Spurs try to convince their superstar to remain with the franchise despite his unhappiness.