Spurs Rumors: Kawhi Leonard goes to the Eastern Conference or stays
By Rob Wolkenbrod
The latest Kawhi Leonard rumor involves where the San Antonio Spurs would want to send him to the Eastern Conference or stand pat.
Kawhi Leonard wants off the San Antonio Spurs, but it’s not that easy. He still has one year left on a multi-year contract, before a player option arrives for the 2019 offseason that he (and probably will) opt out of. That means the Spurs can move him this summer or any time before the 2018 NBA Trade Deadline.
Who will it be to, though? Apparently, anyone outside of the Western Conference. According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the Spurs will either send Leonard to an Eastern Conference team or keep him. That might be why the Los Angeles Lakers were shown the door.
So, that takes 15 teams out of the equation, some of which far outrank any Eastern Conference team’s assets. Although, that leaves a few standout organizations.
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The Philadelphia 76ers have Robert Covington, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric, Zhaire Smith, 2019’s first-round pick and the unprotected 2021 first-round pick from the Miami Heat to move. That’s along with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Furkan Korkmaz and previous, unheralded picks from the Bryan Colangelo era.
The Boston Celtics stand neck and neck with the Sixers, with the ability to include Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Robert Williams, the 2019 Sacramento Kings pick and previous and low cost younger players to fill out a deal. Kyrie Irving’s salary can always match Leonard and make this a deal, but it’s a lateral move for a fellow injured player who can hit free agency in 2019.
After that, the options dissipate. The Orlando Magic have young pieces, but would they willingly mortgage them for a one-year rental? The Milwaukee Bucks have Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon to move, but would they break down the core around Giannis Antetokounmpo and risk how the roster looks in 2019-20?
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There are Eastern Conference options, but it, of course, depends on what they willingly offer for someone who’s no guarantee to remain past the end of 2018-19. So, let’s see what the Spurs decide to do, or if they keep him for the immediate future.