June 29, 2018
NBA: Celtics 'More Likely' To Trade Kyrie Irving Than Jayson Tatum For Kawhi Leonard, Per 'Sports Illustrated'

The Boston Celtics are one of the NBA teams who are currently heavily engaged in trade discussions with the San Antonio Spurs involving Kawhi Leonard. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed that the Celtics have the trade assets the Spurs "most covet." In various NBA trade rumors linking the Celtics to Leonard, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier have emerged as the likely trade pieces Boston will be sending to San Antonio.

Despite losing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward last season, Brown, Tatum, and Rozier carried the Celtics to the Eastern Conference finals and forced a Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Acquiring a trade package centered on one of those players will be beneficial for the Spurs in rebuilding their roster once Kawhi Leonard leaves. According to Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated, the Spurs' "preferred target" in any deal involving their disgruntled superstar is Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.

Unfortunately for the Spurs, the Celtics have already made it clear at the end of the season that Tatum is untouchable. Boston sees Tatum as one of the key players who could help the Celtics return to title contention. However, Fischer noted that the Celtics remain interested in acquiring Leonard, and there is a growing belief that Boston is "more likely" to offer Kyrie Irving and multiple future draft picks.

"San Antonio has informed teams its preferred target in any Leonard trade is the Celtics' Jayson Tatum, sources say. Teams have noted this is likely a negotiating tactic, and it's widely believed in league circles Boston is more likely to propose a deal centered around Kyrie Irving and future picks. But based on previous behavior, the Celtics are unlikely to overpay for Leonard."
The Spurs will surely love the idea of a superstar-for-superstar trade, as it will enable them to remain competitive in the Western Conference after losing Kawhi Leonard. Kyrie Irving will be the perfect replacement for Tony Parker, a 36-year-old point guard who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Parker has already expressed his desire to play for three NBA seasons, but he also opens up the possibility that it would no longer be in San Antonio.

Irving, together will LaMarcus Aldridge and Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich, will lead the Spurs back to title contention, and there is a strong possibility that they will be using the future draft picks they could potentially acquire to further improve their roster.

Meanwhile, it remains questionable why the Celtics should trade Kyrie Irving for Kawhi Leonard, knowing that they already have Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward as starting forwards. Also, the Celtics could be risking a superstar and future draft picks for a possible one-year rental. Since the start of the offseason, Leonard has already informed NBA teams who are interested in trading for him that he intends to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019.