Even though I wrote about it yesterday, I still have a few more thoughts on the Kawhi Leonard trade, and it all has to do with his actions since the trade was announced.
First off, he came out and said, or maybe it was his people, I do not know, that he does not want to play in Toronto. He apparently has zero interest in being on the Raptors. Now, I get that he might not like the team he was traded to, and that he has his own personal list of the teams he wants to play on, but he is under a contract that he signed. Sports is a brutal, heartless business, and Kawhi should know that. He has one final year. He has to, well, if he wants to get paid for doing his job, play for the team he was traded to. I know it is not LA or Philly, or even Boston, but he signed the contract himself. So, he can either play for Toronto, then go anywhere he wants next year, which is his right, or he can sit out and not see a dime.
Which brings me to my second point, his threatening to sit out again. That shit is played out and childish. Why would he want to waste another year of his prime? Is he doing this just to prove a point? Look, I am all for these guys being treated as people, because that is what they are, but what Kawhi is doing is only hurting his career and his image. This whole threatening to sit the season out, and not report to training camp will cost him more money than most of us would see in three or four lifetimes. He must be crazy if he is willing to give up over 20 million dollars, just to prove a point. I'm sure he has more money than he ever imagined, but the threat of losing that much money should scare the hell out of him. I say again, he would lose over 20 MILLION DOLLARS. That is so, so much money.
Also, he would waste another year in his absolute prime. Two years ago, after Tim Duncan retired and the Spurs handed the team over to him, he was one of the best players in the world. I picked him as my preseason MVP, and I still stand by that pick 2 years later. He was crushing the league on both ends of the floor, and he made the Spurs a viable threat in the West. Hell, they might have had a shot at the Warriors if ZaZa Pachulia never stepped underneath him and hurt him again. They were up by a ton in that game, in Golden State, and then Kawhi went down and so did the Spurs.
Kawhi came into last year with that same injury, and just seemed more quiet and disengaged than normal. I know that he had issues with the Spurs trainers, so he got his own. Then, some current players, namely Tony Parker, started to call him out. I'm not here to judge injuries, each player is different in their recovery and what not, but players let him know that they didn't buy it. In fact, former players were openly bashing him on national TV. Then he started to grow despondent with Greg Poppovich, and Poppovich let him know that that did not bother him. He would talk about his injury to the media, say he felt he was ready to go, but he always left it up to Kawhi when he wanted to come back. And he did, for 9 games, and then immediately shut it down. This was when the diva part of him started to come out. He never said anything himself because he is a very quiet person, but his people sure let the media know that he wanted out, and he wanted to go to LA.
So, he wasted the entire season, at age 26, complaining about an injury, the Spurs and demanding a trade. And now that he has been traded, which is what he wanted, he is threatening to miss his second year in a row, at age 27, because he doesn't like the team he was traded to. That is some childish bull shit right there. He got what he wanted. He is not a Spur anymore. He doesn't have to deal with the staff. He is on a team that is a title contender. He will be their number one option if he is healthy. He is in a very big city. But, since the jersey doesn't have LA or PHILA or CELTICS on the front, he is pouting.
I'm at a loss for how to feel about Kawhi Leonard anymore. I once loved his game. I loved how he let his play do all his talking. I love how lock down he was on defense. I loved that he worked hard on his jumper and became an elite player. But now, I am very disappointed in how he has handled this whole thing. It has left a bad taste in my mouth. But hey Kawhi, if you want to lose 20 million dollars, and then go be LeBron's sidekick, that is your decision, and you have every right in the world. I just think it would be stupid to lose that much money and waste 2 years of your absolute prime, just to prove a point.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
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