A trade between the San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers involving Kawhi Leonard and Markelle Fultz looked possible at points during the offseason. As it turns out, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that the Spurs wanted Markelle Fultz. ESPN's Zach Lowe said on The Lowe Post podcast:
“There is no evidence that the Spurs wanted (Markelle) Fultz. I've been told the Spurs never asked for Fultz and actively didn't want Fultz and in fact wanted one of the two big guys.”
This is concerning if you're a Philly fan. San Antonio showing no interest in Fultz is evident of how wary the rest of the league is regarding the first pick of the 2017 draft. To be clear, Lowe isn't saying that the Spurs declined a trade involving Fultz. He's saying they “actively didn't want Fultz.”
There was speculation that Gregg Popovich and the Spurs may tear it down and rebuild in the wake of Kawhi. But now it's clear San Antonio is operating with a much different mindset.
San Antonio's plan with Kawhi was clearly about bringing back talent that could contribute at a high level immediately. They eventually settled on All-Star DeMar DeRozan, but they asked Philly for Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons.
Obviously, Philly was not interested in trading either of their franchise cornerstones for Leonard. There were no guarantees that Leonard would re-sign with Philly, so there was no sense in trading away Embiid or Simmons for a possible rental.
As time goes on, more behind-the-scenes knowledge of the Kawhi Leonard saga will surface. This news paints a fuller picture of why Kawhi ended up in Toronto.