San Antonio Spurs: How is there still hope for a Kawhi Leonard extension?

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 6: Gregg Popovich coaches Kawhi Leonard
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 6: Gregg Popovich coaches Kawhi Leonard /

It seems inevitable that the San Antonio Spurs will trade Kawhi Leonard, but does the organization still think an extension can happen?

Before the 2017-18 season started, an extension for Kawhi Leonard seemed inevitable. A superstar player on the San Antonio Spurs, who displayed a model of consistency for two decades and always kept their main players around, even as they reached 35, 36 or up to 40 years old. The 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons even saw the Spurs reach 60-plus wins, so why not retain the face of the franchise?

Nearly one year later, the Spurs are in position to trade Leonard, with the Boston Celtics, both Los Angeles teams and the Philadelphia 76ers among the reported suitors — even though San Antonio can give him the max contract, five years, $219 million. No one else is able to offer that.

Nearly one month after Leonard’s trade desire went public, however, the Spurs remain hopeful of a contract extension, according to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report. They still do not feel a deal is completely necessary … yet. This echoes what Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News said on NBA TV.

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And then there is the fact that the Spurs have yet to concede they have to trade Leonard and remain hopeful they can convince him to accept their offer of a supermax contract worth $219 million over five years, according to league sources.

If that’s the case, the Leonard saga could drag deep into the summer without any sign of a conclusion. That might not impact opposing teams as much as the Spurs, who have their own clock on when they can trade Leonard; the longer the wait, the less time they will have to move him, especially before the regular season starts in October. Plus, it may change what teams are willing to give up.

As for that, Bucher also noted that some teams would give a “quality young player” and a future first-round pick for Leonard. That’s nowhere close to the Spurs’ supposed asking price, according to Larry Coon on Spectrum Sportsnet.

NBA salary cap expert @LarryCoon was on tonight's show to break down the #Lakers' cap space flexibility following today's moves.

— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) July 3, 2018

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There’s somehow still hope for an extension with Leonard, to keep the team’s star player for another five years. At this rate, he might not make it out of the summer, but that’s hardly a given if the Spurs feel they can recreate the LaMarcus Aldridge situation — although to a much higher degree.