It seems like Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio. This story broke last week, and just about everyone has given their take. Now it’s my turn.
First off, this bums me out. I love Kawhi as a basketball player, and I loved him playing for the Spurs. It seemed like a perfect fit. He grew with this team. He was a Finals MVP with this team. He worked on his jump shot with this team. He has the best coach to ever coach in the NBA with this team. He was going to be the next in line, if he wasn’t already, to lead this team for the next decade. It was meant to be. But, after last season, he has decided he’s had enough. Last year was a very weird season for him and the Spurs. He only played 9 games. He barely traveled with the team. There were times when he was cleared by team doctors, but he chose to sit. He never seemed fully healthy. He is normally a very quiet guy, but he was extra quiet this year. It was bizarre. And now, he wants out, and he wants to be in a big market. I’m not down with this. I still think the Spurs are the best place for him.
The Spurs are not big enough for Kawhi. He apparently wants to be in LA. I’ve also heard that his camp wants him in New York. Since the reports have come out that Kawhi wants out, he’s been rumored to a bunch of different places. The Lakers seemed like the front runners, but recently, it appears they’ve cooled. The Clippers are supposedly putting together a package for him, but a lot of people, me included, don’t think they have the players or picks. Boston has been announced as someone that can get him, but will Danny Ainge part with his valuable assets? I don’t know. He also may have to get rid of Kyrie or Gordon Hayward for this trade to happen. I’ve heard the 76ers as a possibility, but do the Spurs really want to take on a player like Markelle Fultz or Dario Saric? I think if the 76ers are for real, a player like Robert Covington, or dare I say, Ben Simmons, would have to be included. A new report came out yesterday too, saying the Spurs want to meet with Kawhi face to face, and they won’t trade him to any team in the West, which I think is very smart. They can’t just give up on a top 10 guy in the league right now that’s only 26. And, if the damage has been done, trade him to the other conference so they’d only have to face him a handful of times during the regular season, and only in the Finals in the playoffs.
Whatever happens though, wherever Kawhi ends up, I don’t think it will matter in the long run. LeBron is still the needle pusher, especially if he stays in the East. He is still the best guy in the league right now. And, if the Spurs get an offer from a West team they can’t turn down, will the addition of a Kawhi make that team better than the Warriors, or even the Rockets? I don’t think so. Even if he teams up with LeBron or, say a Paul George, the Warriors are still better, and know how to play off one another. Also, if Chris Paul stays in Houston, I still think the Rockets are better than Kawhi’s future team. If I had my way, he’d stay in San Antonio and he and Aldridge and Poppovich will figure all this out. But, if he’s traded, it may take some time for him to be as highly regarded as he was one season ago.
I hope Kawhi stays, but it looks like he has one foot out of the door. I wouldn’t be shocked if we get a definitive answer during the draft on Thursday night. We shall see.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on all the internet.
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