One of the stranger stories in the NBA this season has been Kawhi Leonard’s injury and what it has done to his relationship with the San Antonio Spurs.
The former NBA Finals MVP is considered to be one of the top young talents in the league and the player the post-Tim Duncan Spurs planned to build around. But it now seems reasonable to question how much longer Leonard will be with the team.
He was diagnosed with a quad injury before the season began but it appeared that he would able to play this season. When Leonard did return it was only for nine games before he went out again.
Leonard chose to rehab with his own doctors away from the team, giving credence to rumors of a rift between him and the Spurs. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Leonard and the Spurs are destined to part ways.
After all, last summer star big man LaMarcus Aldridge wasn’t pleased with his place on the Spurs and was hoping to leave until a meeting with head coach Gregg Popovich de-escalated the situation. According to Ramona Shelburne and Michael C Wright of ESPN, the Spurs are hoping Popovich can work his magic again and repair the situation with Leonard:
Internally the Spurs are still optimistic Popovich can repair the relationship and find common ground with Leonard, as he did with Aldridge the previous summer.
With Leonard likely due to hit free agency in the summer of 2019, the Spurs have to figure out his place in their future quickly. Should they determine that he is probably going to leave at the first opportunity they would have to explore trading him in hopes of getting something in return for their star.
The Los Angeles Lakers could be one of the teams interested in bringing in Leonard, who grew up in Southern California. If Leonard prefers to play for the Lakers, the situation could be very similar to the one that played out last summer when Paul George was hoping to be traded to Los Angeles.
With the Lakers looking to jump-start their rebuild, Leonard will be a name to keep an eye on this summer.
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