San Antonio Spurs Rumors

Spurs Rumors: Celtics’ top five players are off limits in Kawhi Leonard talks

By Rob Wolkenbrod
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 02: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs warms up before the game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on January 02, 2018 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 02: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs warms up before the game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on January 02, 2018 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /
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The Boston Celtics will reportedly keep their top players off limits from the San Antonio Spurs in Kawhi Leonard talks.

It’s July 5, and there’s still no deal for the San Antonio Spurs to send Kawhi Leonard elsewhere. Whether it’s the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers or Philadelphia 76ers, nothing seems imminent, with even the slim chance that the former NBA MVP candidate stays in the Alamo City.

The Boston Celtics are among the candidates for Leonard, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted on SportsCenter. However, they have held out their “top five players” from trade talks.

Wojnarowski said the Celtics want to make a “pick-heavy” offer for Leonard. However, the Spurs want players involved.

Presumably, these “top five players” are Al Horford, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kyrie Irving. All but Irving are under contract past the 2018-19 season, with Brown and Tatum having multiple years left on their rookie-scale deals.

It sounds, like, a hard-ball play from Boston, who knows Leonard just sat out all but nine games with a quad injury and is no guarantee to re-sign next summer. That’s a risky play for any team, not just the Celtics, unless it’s a Los Angeles-based franchise.

Of course, the Spurs can try and just wait out the market for Leonard, but the longer it takes, the less they may receive, as it moves everything one step closer to the 2018-19 season and July 1, 2019. So the clock will continue to tick on an uncertain situation, as the pressure builds to make a decision and try to get something in return for this disgruntled star.

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It comes down to how much leverage the Spurs own. That will determine what can come back in a trade with any of the suitors, even if it’s someone not in the reported mix. For now, if the Celtics will not give up someone from their core, it seems unlikely anything will get done.

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