Kawhi Leonard’s relationship with the San Antonio Spurs seems broken beyond repair, to the point where the team has actually cleared him to come back and play this season but he’s decided not to do so quite yet.
Leonard’s injury was slightly lighter than Tony Parker’s, yet the point guard has been back on the court for some time now, while we still don’t have a clear timetable regarding Kawhi’s recovery, and speculation states that he’s just done with San Antonio and won’t come back unless he’s traded.
This situation comes as a huge surprise, as we just can’t seem to remember other guys that would try and force a move out of the Spurs, especially the team’s franchise player and go-to-guy.
Nonetheless, now that things are extremely tense between both parties and that he seems like a lock to leave the team, let’s take a look at the top 5 trade destinations for Kawhi Leonard to land the upcoming campaign, with some interesting packages to kickstart San Antonio’s rebuild.
5. Boston Celtics
Thanks to Danny Ainge’s remarkable job in the team’s front office, the Boston Celtics are currently stacked with young assets and could put an offer on the table no team, not even the San Antonio Spurs could reject.
In order to land Kawhi Leonard and pair him with Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and Gordon Hayward, the C’s could try and send the Spurs Marcus Smart with Jayson Tatum and a couple future 1st and 2nd round picks.
The Spurs will get two young players plus the future picks and if someone knows how to draft great players (Duncan, Parker, Ginobili), that is Gregg Popovich.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James’ future is still up in the air and even though many signals point towards him leaving the team at the end of the campaign, there’s still a slim chance that the Kings decide to stay put at his kingdom beyond this year.
And one thing that could either make Bron stay put or just leave the franchise on a very good position even if he leaves would be landing Leonard, and they could get him “just” for Kevin Love, a 2nd round pick and the Nets 1st round pick, although they’re barred from dealing that pick until Draft night.
This could be a good trade for the Spurs because they could draft Trae Young or Luka Doncic, and with Kevin Love they could become a force in the Western Conference.
3. Golden State Warriors
The rich are always trying to get richer, and pairing Leonard with Curry and Durant would be just some kind of NBA 2K squad, and that could definitely lure Anthony Davis to try and sign with the Dubs when he becomes a free agent as well.
Sadly, this move would require the Warriors to send both Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to San Antonio, although they would be an instant and perfect fit for Gregg Popovich’s system, and Leonard would still provide outstanding defense for Kerr’s team despite losing two of their best defenders.
With Kawhi Leonard on the roster, maybe Golden State Warriors can sign one more superstar (Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins?), but they need to trade Iguodala and Livingston.
Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins. I guess they can have 73-9 and they will not lose 3-1 in the NBA Finals for sure.
2. Philadelphia 76ers
Another team that’s mightily stacked with young players and nice assets are the Philadelphia 76ers, and those years of tanking have finally paid off with one of the most promising young cores in the world, so putting Kawhi in the mix would definitely make them instant Championship contenders.
The Process is already underway and landing a top-tier veteran is their main priority right now, so they wouldn’t hesitate to send both Dario Saric (a guy that’s just tailormade for Popovich) and Robert Covington (a prime 3 and D player) to go along with a 1st and a 2nd round pick to the Spurs in order to get the Klaw.
And the best part is that Philadelphia have enough space to sign LeBron James. Of course, that will be very tough, but… Ben Simmons, Kawhi Leonard and Joel Embiid will be the best team in the Eastern Conference, no doubt.
1. Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets are already the team to beat in the Western Conference according to most casinos, and they’ve quietly become the frontrunners to land the Chip this campaign thanks to the additions they’ve made in the offseason.
Houston Rockets are extremely stacked and landing yet another All-Star alongside Chris Paul and James Harden would make them as scary as the best teams in NBA history. Also, they’d have to part ways with Eric Gordon, Clint Capela, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza in order to get Kawhi.
Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson will be perfect players for the Spurs’ system, Ariza is a lockdown defender and Capela could play a center in the small ball lineup. Yes, they will lose Kawhi, but on the other side, Gregg Popovich will get four solid players on the roster.