The Boston Celtics were one of the NBA teams who expressed strong interest in trading for Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs. They had a plethora of trade assets to convince the Spurs to engage in a blockbuster deal. However, despite their desire to add Leonard to their team, the Celtics weren’t willing to go all-in for a player who could possibly be a one-year rental.
In their rumored trade discussion with the Spurs, the Celtics have made their top-five players — Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown — off-limits in any deal involving Kawhi Leonard. However, the Celtics’ offer was not bad at all. According to Zach Lowe of ESPN and reported by NESN, the Celtics were willing to send a draft-heavy trade package to San Antonio for Leonard.
“I think the Celtics offered most of their best draft picks,” Lowe said. “I don’t think the Celtics just offered ‘You can have a bunch of our picks,’ I think some of the picks they own — at least two of the picks, if not all of them they own from other teams, including the Kings, Grizzlies, and Clippers — I think those were all in the deal, and the Spurs were like ‘Nah, we don’t want that.'”
The 2019 first-round selections that the Celtics own from the Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Memphis Grizzlies have a high chance of becoming lottery picks. It would have helped the Spurs in speeding up the rebuilding process and become a significant team in the league again. However, since Kawhi Leonard expressed his desire to leave San Antonio, the Spurs made it clear that they wanted to remain competitive in the Western Conference which is why they only entertained a trade offer including another quality player.
Instead of making a deal with the Celtics, the Spurs chose to send Leonard and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a 2019 protected first-round pick. DeRozan isn’t a better player than Leonard, but he could at least help the Spurs earn a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference.
Despite failing to acquire Leonard, the Celtics are still the favorite NBA team to fully dominate the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference in the next couple of years. The future first-round picks the Spurs rejected will help the Celtics add another young and talented player on their roster. For the Spurs, only time will tell if they made the right decision to pass on the Celtics’ offer for their disgruntled superstar.