After just nine games this season, Kawhi Leonard voluntarily sat out for the remainder of the Spurs regular season through the playoffs, as they were downed by the Golden State Warriors in five games.
With many questions surrounding Leonard’s future with the Spurs, there have been discussions around NBA circles about Leonard being on the move, as he has a player option on his contract for 2019. He also has an option for a 5-year $219 million super-max extension this offseason. Relations between Leonard and the Spurs have clearly soured.
He was accused, rightly so, of quitting on the Spurs this season, and assuming he requests a trade, the Spurs will likely move him. It would be wise of them to move him if he is non-committal due to his value in the open market. If Leonard has lost interest in playing for the Spurs, they should not hesitate to trade him due to the fact that his injury leaves us uncertain of how he will return. Here are some possible trade scenarios that the San Antonio Spurs should consider:
Price: 2018 first rounder (via Lakers), Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum
The Spurs could begin to immediately rebuild while being able to win now. With LaMarcus Aldridge as their primary option, they will have a top pick to surround him with, as well as two young studs in Brown and Tatum. It would be very hard to trade Tatum, but for a guy as talented as Leonard, I think it’s worth it. The Celtics could legitimately be the favorites in the East with Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Leonard and Al Horford at the helm.
Los Angeles Lakers
Price: 2018 first rounder (via Cavaliers), Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle (sign & trade)
San Antonio would be put in a rebuilding position, as Ingram is still developing. The Lakers could bring in Leonard to potentially pair with a LeBron James/Paul George combination, along with the rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma. This could be a very interesting dynamic, as this team could really challenge the frontrunners in the West for years to come.
Price: 2019 first rounder (via Kings), Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric
This core could also really help the Spurs rebuild. With Fultz somewhat out of place in Philly, he has proven that his potential is quite high. The Sixers would be the immediate favorites in the East if they paired Leonard with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, along with their shooters and 3 and D role players.
Price: 2018 first rounder (via Nets), Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr.
This deal is going to put the Spurs in a rebuilding position, as they would look to acquire talent for the future and develop Nance and Clarkson. This deal would most likely only be considered by Cleveland if James agrees to sign long term, which at this point, looks unlikely unless they can acquire a talent like George or DeMarcus Cousins.
New York Knicks
Price: 2018 first rounder, 2020 first rounder, Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway, Jr.
This deal is highly unrealistic, but as a Knicks fan, I had to include it.
Price: 2018 first rounder, Eric Bledsoe, Jabari Parker
Putting Leonard next to Giannis Antetokounmpo could make for an impenetrable defense as well as an explosive full court offense. These two resemble each other in length and explosiveness and paired with Malcom Brogdon and Kris Middleton could make for a lethal threat to any team in the NBA.
Who is the best suitor for Kawhi Leonard?
I believe if he joins forces with the Philadelphia 76ers, they can be favorites to win it all in the next couple of years. The Boston Celtics have the most value to offer for Kawhi, and they would also be a good spot for him. However, I believe the best destination is Philly.
Deals are based on projected value Spurs would ask for.
Cap space was not considered in these trades, as some of them may need to be refined if they were to actually be considered. Additionally, the pieces that would also be sent with Kawhi were not addressed due to their relative insignificance for this particular article.
About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (secondtakewithspencera).