Chances of Kawhi Leonard playing for the Boston Celtics or Philadelphia 76ers next season have risen. Unfortunately for Los Angeles Lakers’ fans, however, their dream of landing Kawhi Leonard has been put on hold, as Leonard’s desire to play for them, according to ESPN, will have to wait until next summer.
According to ESPN, the Spurs have refused a number of trade offers made by the Lakers. Any of the rumors involving Kawhi Leonard and the Lakers may have been put to rest.
The Los Angeles Lakers are not the only team who the San Antonio Spurs have refused to make a trade with. Sam Amick of USA Today is reporting that the Spurs prefer to trade Kawhi Leonard to an Eastern Conference team. The report should quell each of the trade rumors regarding the Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Sacramento Kings.
First, the Spurs must decide to move forward without its best player. Nothing is guaranteed regarding this sentiment. The Spurs have the leverage with Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs can just allow this current situation with the disgruntled Leonard to play itself out.
Until something significant happens between now and next February’s trade deadline, Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs have time to mend fences. There is a good possibility the Spurs hold onto Kawhi Leonard as long as they can.
The Spurs may lose out on a chance to get the best trade package they can for Kawhi Leonard if they wait. Also, the Spurs are risking unrest in the locker room for as long as Leonard does not back off of his trade request. Teams will continue to probe things with Kawhi Leonard until there is a resolution.
One unlikely end to the Kawhi Leonard drama is for the Cleveland Cavaliers to acquire him from the Spurs.
Unlike some of their Eastern Conference counterparts, the Cavaliers do not have an abundance of trade assets to add Kawhi Leonard. For the Cavaliers to trade for Leonard, they would have to include multiple draft picks, their No. 8 from last Thursday’s draft, Collin Sexton, and Kevin Love.
If that trade package by the Cavaliers was approved by the Spurs, it would only improve Cleveland incrementally. A combination of LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard may be good enough to get the Cavaliers to the Eastern Conference finals. The Boston Celtics would still have a better roster than the Cavaliers would have on paper.
The aforementioned Celtics have the assets to trade for Kawhi Leonard. As long as the asking price for Leonard does not include both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the Celtics will be in the running.
The Philadelphia 76ers are putting together a good mixture of trade chips to add Kawhi Leonard. The 76ers have solid young players in Robert Covington and Dario Saric, which they can put in a package for a Kawhi Leonard trade. The rookie contract of Markelle Fultz is also intriguing if the Spurs believe he can play.
The NBA trade rumors involving Kawhi Leonard has included the usual suspects of the 76ers, Cavaliers, Celtics, and Lakers. Nevertheless, a dark horse team could join the trade talks.
When it comes to making a run at acquiring Kawhi Leonard, do not dismiss the Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, or Milwaukee Bucks. Each team has a mixture of All-Star caliber players and young talent that could be used to entice the San Antonio Spurs to relinquish Kawhi Leonard.
For instance, the Pistons have Andre Drummond, Luke Kennard, Reggie Jackson, and Stanley Johnson, which they can offer in some combination for a Kawhi Leonard trade. The Heat has Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and Justise Winslow. Meanwhile, the Bucks have to offer Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Malcom Brogdon, and Thon Maker.
Neither trade asset puts the San Antonio Spurs in a position to compete for a championship next season, however, trading Kawhi Leonard eliminates a run for the title in any scenario. That may force the Spurs to take their time in trading Kawhi Leonard.
The trade market for Kawhi Leonard shrinks if the rumors are true that the San Antonio Spurs will only deal him to an Eastern Conference team. Yet, there are other potential trade proposals for Kawhi Leonard that do not include the usual suspects. If the Spurs soften their stance, the thought of a Kawhi Leonard for Andrew Wiggins trade would be intriguing.