San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard is currently one of the hottest commodities on the trade market this offseason. After a season filled with drama and frustrations, the disgruntled superstar expressed his intention to leave the Spurs and said that he prefers to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the Spurs made it clear that they are not willing to send Leonard to the Lakers or other Western Conference teams.
This gives Eastern Conference teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers a strong chance of landing Kawhi Leonard this summer. According to Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report, the Cavaliers will do whatever it takes to convince LeBron James to stay, and the potential acquisition of Leonard could be enough for the best player on the planet to continue his basketball career in Cleveland.
In a proposed trade deal, Highkin suggested that the Cavaliers could trade George Hill, the draft rights to Collin Sexton, and a 2021 first-round pick to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard. The deal works on ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine.
“Leonard and George Hill have already been traded for each other once, on draft night in 2011, and Hill’s $19 million salary for next season would make salary-matching easy. Hill’s $18 million salary in 2019-20 is only $1 million guaranteed, per Spotrac, so the deal wouldn’t require the Spurs to take on any long-term money. The prizes would be the just-drafted Collin Sexton, a tough, defensive-minded point guard under four years of cheap team control, and a future unprotected first-rounder.”
The suggested trade will not only be beneficial for the Cavaliers but also for the Spurs, especially if they decide to undergo a full-scale rebuild. Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich could mold Collin Sexton to be the next Tony Parker. George Hill could serve as their temporary starting point guard if Parker retires or joins another team as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Meanwhile, LeBron James will surely love the idea of playing alongside a known “LeBron stopper.” James and Leonard are the best two-way players in the league. Having both superstars in Cleveland will increase the Cavaliers’ chance of fully dominating the Eastern Conference and beating the Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven series.
Unfortunately, the Cavaliers are not the only Eastern Conference team interested in trading for Kawhi Leonard. The Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers currently have more attractive trade assets to offer to the Spurs. However, as Highkin noted, sending Leonard to the Cavaliers has an added benefit for the Spurs as it would prevent LeBron James from joining the Lakers or other Western Conference teams.