Lakers, Celtics among teams that can realistically get Kawhi Leonard
The San Antonio Spurs might be forced into desperate measures if the franchise can’t come to a mutual understanding with star forward Kawhi Leonard and his representation after a reported fissure between both sides has spelled the start of a brewing battle between the two.
Teams around the league are reportedly preparing trade packages in case the Spurs choose to part ways with their 26-year-old star. According to Ken Berger of Bleacher Report, a Western Conference executive believes teams are “lining up to try to do something” in hopes to acquire the two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Among them, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics boast the best chances to garner his services.
The Lakers, who saved a ton of cap space this season, looking to reel in two max-level free agents this offseason have reportedly shifted their strategy to target the 2019 free agent class, which could include Leonard if he turns down the extension.
“That’s why [the Lakers] are spinning it into ‘wait till next year,'” the executive said. “They know they can get Kawhi.”
Leonard is a Los Angeles native, which has made the Lakers a natural link destination, but the Boston Celtics have perhaps the best ready-set package to dole out for his services.
An NBA agent approximated that Leonard would haul in roughly $70 million more by signing a supermax extension with the Spurs, which financially speaking would be as close to a no-brainer.
“That would be the smart thing to do,” the agent said.
But if he does choose to leave, the Celtics have all the loose pieces to make this trade happen.
“If I’m the Spurs, I trade him to Boston for [Jaylen] Brown, [Terry] Rozier and a first [round pick],” the agent said. “Strike when the iron’s hot, with all these teams coming at you.”
But the Spurs still have all the leverage, as Leonard will be under their control until 2019 unless San Antonio chooses to trade him, and much like the Indiana Pacers last season, they will have full say on where he ends up, without the need to acquiesce to his desires.
“If I’m them,” the agent said, “I’m trading him to Siberia if that gets me the best return.”