Kawhi Leonard wants to be the focal point, so why not just stay?
By Rob Wolkenbrod
If Kawhi Leonard wants to be the focal point of a team — even though this will not happen — why not just stay in San Antonio?
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders discussed how Kawhi Leonard, wherever he goes, wants to be the focal point of a team. Though it’s unknown if LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers impacts this, since Leonard has wanted the Purple and Gold from the start of the trade hysteria.
Let’s say James with the Lakers causes Leonard to want to go elsewhere and helm a team as its star player. That’s fine, but the incumbent situation should make the most sense, right?
The Spurs have LaMarcus Aldridge, who proved he can headline an offense, as with the Portland Trail Blazers for nine seasons. It worked, but San Antonio lacked the dominant scorer that could stretch the floor and fit in with the three-point wielding NBA teams.
Leonard would slide back in and potentially take back the 25 points per game he left behind. Without a clear-cut No. 2 or even No. 3 player behind Aldridge, there’s all kinds of space for someone to dominate the ball and lead the offense as the guy. If not, as marginally ahead of Aldridge, who slides into the “Robin” role.
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Aldridge’s production as second fiddle fell off in his first and second seasons in the Alamo City, though. Of course there was the heart-to-heart talk about his role in the offense and to ease a trade request, but if Leonard played for most of 2017-18, would everything revert to normal for Aldridge?
Is that a risk the Spurs willingly take? Probably, in order to retain the would-be face of the franchise, the supposed heir apparent to Tim Duncan‘s reign of 19 years.
Plus, at five years, $221 million, it’s difficult to question that Leonard would not be the guy on this Spurs roster. Aldridge makes over $20 million per year, but Leonard’s carries an average annual value of $44 million; although it would potentially work differently than that.
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Does any of this matter, though? With a fractured relationship, the desire to go home and the unwillingness to take the supermax contract, everything points towards Leonard’s departure. San Antonio is the place for him to be the star, but that role will seemingly be with another team that does not have an all-eyes-on-me player.