The Boston Celtics are one of the NBA teams who expressed interest in trading for Kawhi Leonard this summer. They currently have a plethora of trade assets, including young players and future draft picks, to convince the San Antonio Spurs to engage in a blockbuster trade. Despite their worsening relationship with Leonard, the Spurs are still expecting to receive a “Godfather” offer in exchange for the disgruntled superstar.
However, the Celtics don’t seem to be interested in going all-in for Kawhi Leonard. In an appearance on SportsCenter, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed that the Celtics made their top-five players “off limits” in any potential deal with the Spurs involving Leonard, but they are willing to explore a trade package including multiple future draft picks.
“Boston’s really got their top five players off limits. Boston’s more willing to do a deal that’s (draft) pick-heavy. But the Spurs want good players back. They don’t want to rebuild. They want picks, and they want guys who can help them stay in the playoffs.”
Woj didn’t name any specific player included on the Celtics’ top five. But according to Jordan Greer of Sporting News, Boston’s top-five players include Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. In various NBA trade rumors linking Kawhi Leonard to the Celtics, Brown and Tatum emerged as the likely trade piece.
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) July 5, 2018
The Celtics discovered the superstar potentials of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum when Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward suffered season-ending injuries. Both young players led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference finals where they forced a Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Between the two, Tatum is reportedly the Spurs’ preferred trade target.
Unfortunately, the Celtics made it clear earlier in the offseason that Tatum is not and will not be available on the trade market anytime soon. If the Spurs insist with their asking price, it is highly likely that the Celtics will give up with their plan to acquire Kawhi Leonard this summer. According to Chris Forsberg of ESPN, Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge already said that their team is unlikely to make major offseason moves.
The addition of Kawhi Leonard will tremendously increase the Celtics’ chance of conquering the Eastern Conference next season. However, they could be giving up future superstars like Tatum and Brown for a possible one-year rental. Also, the Celtics may first want to see if they have a chance of winning an NBA championship title now that Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are 100 percent recovered from injury.