Here we go again.
Brian Windhorst got the basketball world talking when he said that at the end of the season other teams would come calling for Kawhi Leonard. If you’ve been following the situation closely, this isn’t surprising. Months ago, ESPN’s Jalen Rose predicted that this is probably Leonard’s last year and recently even suggested that the Celtics may be a suitor. The back and forth between the camps of Leonard and the Spurs have slowly reached a point of what appears to be shaky communication grounds.
When a player of Kawhi Leonard’s status becomes available, there’s a mass hysteria between teams and fans about the possibilities of acquiring such a talent. General market practices don’t apply to MVP candidates. Everyone wants them and everyone is willing to take a risk to get them because there’s no denying that the probability of your title chances increases exponentially when you have a top-5 player. And let’s not get it twisted, Leonard is a top 5 player.
Last year he averaged 25.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.5 apg while shooting 38 3P% and 48 FG%. He did this all while being the best perimeter defender and consistently taking on the opposing teams number one option on the perimeter. The best of it all? He’ll only be 27 when next season starts and just beginning his prime.
The man is the perfect building block for any team in the league, and that includes the Boston Celtics.
The potential trade
Boston receives: Kawhi Leonard
Spurs receive: Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, LAL/SAC pk, Marcus Morris, and fillers (Abdel Nader, Guerschon Yabusele)
Even without the Brooklyn picks, Boston could offer the Spurs an enticing package of two promising young players that will have the restricted free agent tag when their contracts are up, a lottery pick, and cheap, young talent—the type of players the Spurs made successful for years. For Boston, the deal allows you to run with a core of Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford. It’s essentially paying premium price to acquire a player that is best-case scenario Jaylen Brown and fits the clock of your two other superstars.
If I’m Boston, I would allow the Spurs to pick between Brown and Tatum but I wouldn’t deal both. Also, if push came to shove the team should be willing to give up one of their own firsts to depending on the competition of the offers.
What are the chances of this happening?
Despite what anyone says, the chances of this happening are very low. Leonard will have a supermax deal on the table worth over $200 million that he can only get from the Spurs. For these talks to even begin to get serious, Leonard would have to reject that money or Greg Popovich and the Spurs would have to be so unhappy and prideful that they refuse to even offer the contract. Both scenarios seem unlikely. But then again, none of us thought Kyrie Irving would be a Celtics this time last year. And yet, here we are.