Roundtable: Where Will Kawhi Leonard Play Next Season?
This upcoming free agency class is headlined by LeBron James and is followed by names such as Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins and a boat load of restricted free-agents. However, last offseason, where we saw the likes of Paul George, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler all traded. It goes to show anyone can be moved when things aren't smooth sailing. Now enter Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs. A break-up between Kawhi and the Spurs seems like a possible road to be taken this offseason. In this roundtable the OTG staff gives their thoughts on where Kawhi Leonard will play next season.
Evan Dyal - @EvanDyal
My guess is Kawhi gets traded. The Spurs do have leverage as they can offer more money than anyone else, it's hard to say no to $219 million, but the situation seems beyond repair. San Antonio needs to trade him now before they risk losing him for nothing the season after. I think he goes to the Lakers. The Lakers can offer Brandon Ingram, a first-round pick from Cleveland, Josh Hart and Channing Frye. L.A gets a star that it can pair with Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Julius Randle while hopefully another big free agent. While San Antonio gets two good young players in Ingram and Hart, plus an extra first. Keep an eye on Philly and Boston as well, and there is always a dark horse team, but the Lakers have the assets, the money and it instantly becomes Kawhi's team. Gosh, I can't wait for the offseason.
Jac Manuell - @TheJmanJBT
No team is going to ‘claw’ Kawhi away from San Antonio; see what I did there?
So many teams are vying for his services and with tensions reportedly rising between Coach Popovich and the Spurs’ star, the rumors of Leonard leaving San Antonio have reached fever pitch. The risk benefit analysis of dealing Kawhi doesn’t make a heap of sense for either party. Kawhi can make a heap of money by staying in San Antonio and the franchise’s ceiling is dramatically higher if they were to smooth things out. A healthy Leonard makes the Spurs a legitimate championship threat with the right pieces around him.
Health and communication are the keys to any good relationship, never has it been truer than for the situation in San Antonio.
Jonathan Ebrahimi - @Awrashoo
What if Kawhi Leonard, a Los Angeles native, lets it known that the only team he will re-sign with would be the Lakers? In return, LA send the Spurs a package that includes either Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram (or even both). This would bring Kawhi to the Lakers, who would only have 4 or 5 other players under contract depending on whether they keep Julius Randle (more on him later).
This would give Los Angeles enough cap room to sign 2 additional max contracts in free agency, and guess which free agents have been linked to the Lakers all year long?
Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and… LeBron James.
Yes, technically speaking, if the Kawhi Leonard deal ends up working out, it puts the Lakers in a position to build an absolute monster in LA. Although all three of them are listed as small forwards, Paul George is perfectly capable of playing shooting guard and we’ve seen LeBron dominate at the power forward position (not that positions really matter in 2018).They’d still have Kyle Kuzma under contract, and could TRY to convince Julius Randle to take the qualifying offer of $5.6 million with the promise of a lucrative contract down the road.
The rest of the squad would have to be made up of minimum contracts similar to what Miami did in 2011. This summer, a lot of very capable, previously overpaid veterans like Wilson Chandler, Amir Johnson and Jamal Crawford will all be available.
Kahzah Mims - @kjmims22
Given the constant speculation surrounding Leonard’s mysterious injury status and rumors swirling that Kawhi’s “group” (as famously labeled by Greg Popovich) may want him to play in a bigger market, it only makes sense to assume he wants out. Interestingly, Kawhi was spotted at a Los Angeles Dodgers game this past week even though he couldn’t seem to make time to attend any of the Spurs’ recent playoff games. With Magic Johnson being a Lakers executive as well as a partial owner of the Dodgers, of course this adds fuel to the Kawhi to LA rumors. Any tampering violations here by the way?
The Lakers will probably be the biggest competitor to the Spurs for Kawhi’s services. He’s from the LA area and the team will be even more enticing if they manage to sign any of the big free agents, such as LeBron James or Paul George (or both). It all sounds good, but I just can’t see the Spurs agreeing to help a conference rival, especially the Lakers. In the end, I anticipate that Kawhi and Coach Pop will have a good ole pow wow this summer and he’ll be signing that $200+ million super max extension.
Dominic Roney - @DomRoney
Kawhi Leonard is easily a top 3 player in the NBA, and it’s hard to say any team could even offer a trade package that matches his talents without severely overpaying. Leonard is eligible to hit free agency after the 2019 season, which means San Antonio could just wait it out while remaining a contender with him on the roster. This enables them to move on from Kawhi Leonard without having to take on a player that has a similarly large contract. This would leave the front office free to make moves without the worry of cap space. If the Spurs do want to trade Kawhi to get the best possible offer for him, they are likely to move him around the trade deadline next season. I would be shocked to see him in a different jersey to start the 2018-2019 season. This is only the case if both Kawhi and San Antonio truly want to part ways which is something I’m not fully convinced of yet. One thing I am convinced of, Kawhi Leonard, the newest Los Angeles Dodgers fan, will find his way to the Los Angeles Lakers sooner or later in his career.
Kory Waldron - @KwalHoops
This is tough for me, a part of me wants to scream at everyone saying Kawhi Leonard will be moved. But, there's a growing sense of unrest I have while Kawhi sits at Los Angeles Dodger games. So, this is where I'm at, I DO NOT believe the San Antonio Spurs will move or look to move Kawhi. He's an NBA champion and Finals MVP, one of the top 5 best players in today's game. However, if Kawhi wants out, if he tells the Spurs I'm out, if there's not a glimmer of hope alive, he will be moved. We saw things get rocky with LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs just a short season ago. Fences were mended and it led to a career year for Aldridge, the same can happen and I believe will happen with Kawhi. The 8% chance it doesn't? Kawhi Leonard ends up in one of the most premier basketball cities, Los Angeles or Boston.