It’s not even July 1st yet, but this summer is already heating up. In today’s episode of As The World Turns (around Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers, and LeBron James), here’s an update from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Brian Windhorst, and Adrian Wojnarowski:
The Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers and LA Clippers are among teams who’ve made offers to the Spurs for Leonard, league sources said. The Lakers, the franchise that Leonard wants to be traded to, did not have a good initial conversation with the Spurs, ESPN reported recently.
Although the Lakers came away feeling like San Antonio ”shut the door on us” and the conversation never progressed or included a formal trade offer, the Spurs haven’t ruled out sending Leonard to any destination, league sources said.
Leonard has been adamant that he only wants to go to Los Angeles and will sign with the Lakers next season. Any trade for him now could potentially be just a one-year rental, but that hasn’t dissuaded Danny Ainge from proposing a deal. Maybe that’s a sign that he thinks the allure of Boston, Brad Stevens, and the Celtics’ long term outlook could convince Kawhi to stay. Maybe he’s OK with raising the ceiling for 2018-2019 just to raise Banner 18. Maybe it’s just posturing for the summer of 2019 when Leonard becomes a free agent and the Celtics could potentially have cap space to sign him outright and Ainge just wants to put his interest on record. It’s unclear whether or not the offer was made with any assurances that Leonard would consider re-signing with the Celtics.
The bigger question is what the trade package would include. Despite the Spurs’ hesitation to trade Kawhi to a Western Conference rival and Kawhi’s request to go to LA, those circumstances won’t exactly depress his value on the market. San Antonio will ultimately take the best deal. For the Celtics, would you include a rising star in Jaylen Brown? How about a sign-and-trade with Marcus Smart or parting with Terry Rozier before he enters restricted free agency next summer? There’s also the lock box of first round picks in 2019. The Celtics made an offer last year at the deadline, but after their unexpected post season run and the impending return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, whether or not they trade for Kawhi Leonard, arguably one of the league’s three best players, is a luxury the Celtics can entertain, but not desperately need.