Though the flurry of NBA free agency may be largely over, the rumors surrounding Kawhi Leonard are only heating up, and there appears to be a new team in the lead.
The San Antonio Spurs haven’t given away much about their plans for their disgruntled All-Star, who has asked for his ticket out of town after a season of tension with team management. While he had originally been connected to the Los Angeles Lakers, ESPN’s Chris Haynes tweeted that the Philadelphia 76ers could have the inside track. That would seem to jive with earlier reports that the Spurs wanted to do all they could to keep Leonard out of the Western Conference.
Philadelphia has been assembling a powerful Eastern Conference contender, especially with the departure of LeBron James from the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the addition of Leonard could propel them to the top of the conference. They could also be in the lead for Leonard by default, as reports note that one of his preferred destinations doesn’t have enough to offer the Spurs in a trade.
A report from The Sporting News claimed that the Los Angeles Clippers, one of the top choices for Leonard, don’t have enough assets to complete the trade. The report also noted that the Boston Celtics are in the running for Leonard along with the Lakers, 76ers, and Clippers.
Wherever he goes, the price is likely to be high. As The Sporting News report noted, the Spurs are not budging on their asking price for Leonard.
“The Spurs are reportedly remaining ‘extremely stubborn, unwilling to budge even a little’ with Leonard, according to Yahoo Sports Insider Jordan Shultz, citing one general manager. The report adds that the Spurs ‘could care less if their 27-year-old superstar is unhappy’ and San Antonio is ‘not in a rush to move him if their asking price — regardless of team — is not met.'”
The 76ers could run into the same problem as the Clippers, the report added. The team has reportedly kept its trio of young and talented stars — Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz — off limits as well. The Celtics may be offering a more favorable deal, but is focused on draft picks rather than players, the report added.
The NBA rumors could still simmer for some time. Yahoo’s Jordan Schultz tweeted a prediction that the stalemate between the San Antonio Spurs and Kawhi Leonard may drag out indefinitely as the Spurs feel no pressure to keep Leonard happy.