San Antonio Spurs: Other Kawhi Leonard suitors had more to give, but didn’t
By Rob Wolkenbrod
The San Antonio Spurs probably did not receive the offers they expected for Kawhi Leonard, before the trade with the Toronto Raptors.
The San Antonio Spurs settled on a trade with the Toronto Raptors, sending Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick. That’s hardly nothing, but it’s not a bevy young, affordable assets that other teams could have offered for an MVP-caliber talent, when healthy.
The Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers were the other reported teams in the Leonard mix. All either own young players on rookie deals or future draft picks from other teams.
On Thursday, ESPN’s Bobby Marks profiled the tradeable assets from all the teams in the mix for Leonard. Given what everyone could have offered, it shows how Leonard’s value, at a one-year rental and after a nearly season-fulfilling quadriceps injury, fell off:
Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum were all off the table in Leonard talks. For the Spurs, that’s a problem.
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Terry Rozier was probably the most appealing player left to offer, and his contract expires after the 2018-19 season. How much interest would there be for someone that handles the same position as Dejounte Murray, though?
Outside of Rozier, it’s Marcus Morris‘ expiring contract, Guerschon Yabusele and other low-salary, low-upside players.
Draft picks are Boston’s forte. They own the Sacramento Kings’ 2019 first-round pick, a protected 2019 first-round pick from the Memphis Grizzlies and a protected 2019 first-round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers that can become two second-round picks.
The Celtics reportedly made a pick-laden offer for Leonard. Whether it included any of the above selections is unknown, but it obviously was not good enough for the Spurs.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have Kawhi Leonard’s desire for Los Angeles on their side. So why give up Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma or Josh Hart in a deal for someone that may sign in 12 months?
Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka have other young players on the roster, but would Lonzo Ball, the unproven Moritz Wagner and first-round picks be anywhere close to enough for Leonard?
In 2019, the Lakers might remain the favorite for Leonard, pending how the 2018-19 season progresses with the Toronto Raptors. Even if they do not sign him, pieces are still in place to surround LeBron James and make this an intriguing squad.
The Sixers would not give up any of Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz or Ben Simmons in a Kawhi Leonard trade. Embiid and Simmons are young, All-Star-caliber players, and it makes sense for them avoiding trade talks. Fultz was the No. 1 pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, but dealt with a broken jump shot in his rookie season and shoulder issues.
After them, Philadelphia had Robert Covington and Dario Saric as the leading players to move, but none of them are All-Stars, and other available pieces do not hold the youthful appeal, are owed too much money or were low draft picks that did not prove anything in the NBA.
The Sixers own all of their first-round picks for the next six years and have the Miami Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick. The latter likely holds the most appeal.
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No package from Boston, Los Angeles or Philadelphia lived up to the hype of what the Spurs wanted for their 2014 NBA Finals MVP. It did not seem that anyone was close, with everyone better off waiting for July 2019.