Kawhi Leonard will be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2015 and he wants a pay day. There is word going around that Leonard will look to command a max offer sheet next year. The question for the San Antonio Spurs have to face “Is he worth a max contract?”
Right now that is a million dollar question (literally). If Leonard plays the way he did in the last three games of the NBA Finals, there is no question. Leonard slowed down LeBron James, who is seen as the best player in the planet today, while topping 20 points in the last three games.
Kawhi Leonard averaged 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in the Finals, while shooting 61% from the field and 58% from three. Being 22 at the time, Leonard was the third youngest Finals MVP in NBA History (Magic Johnson).
If Leonard plays the way he has been playing in the regular season, it’s hard to see him as a “max contract” guy despite the potential and defensive prowess he has. In the regular season he averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. His point total should increase with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili getting older and his number should be called upon, unlike the past. In the past Leonard has been seen as a guy who scores on cuts and offensive rebounds, but now it is likely that there will be plays actually called for him.
The Spurs are a smart franchise, they should take the “wait and see” approach, if Leonard is producing on the offensive end better than he did last season, throw the money in his direction, if not wait it out. It’s hard to picture a guy who averages around 13 points and isn’t a playmaker, getting paid max money, no matter how good his defense is. I expect Leonard to average around 16 points and get the max contract. A Finals MVP surely helps doesn’t it.
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