Kawhi Leonard Trade: Lakers, Celtics and Sixers are Frontrunners
A Kawhi Leonard trade will end the drama in San Antonio this summer. The latest NBA trade rumors state that the disgruntled basketball superstar is locked in demanding a deal out of San Antonio and that the Spurs are now amenable to sending him to another team this 2018 offseason.
Spurs confirm trade talks
According to various reports, the Texas team has given up on convincing Leonard to stay and is now open to any trade. The 27-year-old Leonard has two years left in his deal set to be paid $20 million for the 2018-2019 season and $21.3 million in 2019-20 season. However, the last year of his deal in San Antonio has a “player option” tag, meaning he can choose to leave the Spurs after the upcoming season.
The Spurs likely want to end the Kawhi drama this summer, to avoid any more distractions and at the same time get max value in any trade for their superstar. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed that the Spurs are now open to trade talks with multiple teams.
In separate NBA rumors, three teams are mentioned as possible landing spots for Leonard. The Los Angeles Lakers in the West, and the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics in the East. There are also reports that the Lakes are the preferred destination for the two-time defensive player of the year.
Kawhi Leonard trade to Lakers
Marc Stein of the New York Times is reporting that the Lakers are willing to give up young forward Brandon Ingram along with a future first round pick for Leonard. However, it appears that the Spurs are also looking for more in any deal.
With a young roster in Los Angeles, San Antonio can choose from any of Lonzo Ball, Julius Randle or Kyle Kuzma and perhaps, more future picks. It’s not clear if the Lakers are willing to give up more than one young guy and/or draft picks. But with news that LeBron James is closely watching the Lakers’ moves this offseason, L.A. might have to give what the Spurs want if it means convincing LeBron to go to the Lakers.
Kawhi Leonard trade to Celtics
The Spurs are also telling teams that they want to “remain competitive” even if they deal away Leonard. Another team that the Spurs can make a trade with are the Boston Celtics, who have a nice combination of “win-now” players, young guns and future picks.
It’s not clear which players general manager Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens are willing to give up if they are to deal for Leonard. Notable players under contract next season for the Celtics are Kyrie Irving ($20 million), Terry Rozier ($3 million), Gordon Hayward ($31 million), Jayson Tatum ($6.7 million), Jaylen Brown ($5.1 million), Marcus Morris ($5.3 million) and Al Horford ($28.9 million).
If a Spurs-Celtics trade happens, Boston may have to send multiple young guys on cheap contracts to get Leonard. But if it’s for a one-on-one deal, then sending Irving, Hayward or Horford to San Antonio works per NBA trade rules.
Kawhi Leonard trade to Sixers
Perhaps the most curious destination for Leonard are the Philadelphia 76ers. They already have the young guys (Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons) as cornerstones of the franchise but still have lots of assets to give up in a trade. Philly also has one of the biggest salary cap space this summer, which means they can still sign a superstar player outright.
In a possible trade with the Spurs for Leonard, the Sixers are likely to consider Embiid and Simmons as the “untouchable” players. However, Philadelphia also have lots of other assets like Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Markelle Fultz and future picks that might be appealing to the Spurs.
With the free agency situation of LeBron James, Paul George and other players, the 2018 offseason looks like it will shake up the league, one way or the other. Add the nearing end of the drama between the San Antonio Spurs and Kawhi Leonard, this summer will indeed change the landscape of the NBA in time for the 2018-2019 NBA Season.