The upcoming free agency period figures to drastically change the landscape of the NBA going forward, as the likes of DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George and LeBron James are all slated to test the open market. But further chaos may ensue on the trade market, depending on how the San Antonio Spurs handle their Kawhi Leonard dilemma.
Leonard is seemingly at a crossroads with Spurs’ management after appearing in only eight games during the regular season. He missed the entire first round of playoff action and didn’t so much as join the team on the bench for the series.
A recent report indicted that San Antonio has been hesitant to pursue a potential trade for their superstar despite interest from other teams, as they ultimately hope to make amends with Leonard.
But if the Spurs become more serious in trading Leonard over the coming weeks, the front office is seeking a major haul in return, per Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:
I’ve heard from multiple NBA executives that San Antonio won’t settle for anything less than a grand-slam offer. If offers were underwhelming around the draft and the start of free agency, the Spurs might opt to let the saga drag into training camp, or even into the season.
The Spurs, one of the NBA’s most well-respected organizations over the last two decades, certainly won’t rush to trade a young star in Leonard, no matter how awkward the situation becomes.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were in a similar spot with Kyrie Irving last year and ultimately decided to trade him to the Boston Celtics at the end of August — just one month shy of training camp opening.
San Antonio can follow suit or even opt to keep Leonard for his final season under contract, despite indications that he wants to play for his hometown Lakers.
Leonard’s trade value is arguably at an all-time low after he struggled to stay on the court this season and the fact that he can become a free agent in 2019. That could be problematic for the Spurs, who have a difficult decision to make in the near future.