San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi Leonard for Kyrie Irving is interesting but odd

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 30: Kawhi Leonard
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 30: Kawhi Leonard /

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith proposed the San Antonio Spurs offer Kawhi Leonard for Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving. Does it make any sense?

With Kawhi Leonard’s San Antonio Spurs status in doubt this offseason, it would be a shock to not hear his name in trade discussions. Especially after the ESPN report that painted the behind-the-scenes picture of Leonard’s relationship with the Spurs and the difference of opinion on the right quadriceps injury.

On Friday’s episode of First Take (h/t, Stephen A. Smith proposed one suitor for Leonard: the Boston Celtics. He even added who Danny Ainge’s front office should trade for the injured former MVP candidate: fellow banged-up superstar Kyrie Irving.

Smith argued Irving’s future contract (while also noting Leonard’s future supermax). However, the intangibles Leonard brings to the table, including playing with scoring forwards Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum and rising star Terry Rozier, was also noted.

The Spurs receive a star for a star. Fine. That’s proper, on paper, but a potential move seems odd from San Antonio’s perspective.

Taking Irving’s contract puts the Silver and Black in a similar position: debating on paying a superstar max money. Sure, it will not be the $219 million Leonard would get, but it’s still a four-year commitment, and a ton of cash, to a player that has also battled injuries; Irving missed at least 20 games in four of his seven seasons.

What if San Antonio can’t get Irving to re-sign and lose him for nothing in 2019? If the Spurs compete in 2018-19 and don’t want to ruin in-season success, it would not be a surprise to see them keep him and go into a risky summer situation.

That’s what points to the Spurs getting young, controllable talent and draft picks for Leonard. It gives them more salary cap flexibility and assets for a potential rebuild or retool phase. There’s no guarantee any of them become star-caliber players, like Irving or Leonard, but with this organization’s draft track record, they could feel confident enough to invest and gamble on the future.

If the Dejounte Murray plan remains in effect, then acquiring Irving stalls momentum on that front. The former Washington guard flashed defensive upside and needs a healthy amount of offensive development, but he will only be 22 years old by next season and the Spurs rarely, if ever, trade their young assets (unless it’s to get Leonard in 2011).

Next: 2018 NBA Mock Draft: SAS edition

Would you want to see the Spurs and Celtics swap superstars? Does it make sense for both sides after the events of their respective franchises?