April 28, 2018

Will Spurs trade Kawhi Leonard?
Here's four possible new locales

Kawhi Leonard — gone
from San Antonio?
Is the San Antonio tenure of all-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard at an end, with his not only not playing in the playoffs but literally not even showing up, as I have discussed in detail?

As Woj noted a few days ago, this is surely the Spurs' No. 1 issue, and one they will likely address as soon as coach Gregg Popovich is at a reasonable point in the process of mourning his wife's passing. The options are three – trade him, keep him but without a supermax extension, or given him the full palooza. (That said, per some new Woj, the relationship may not be broken.)

I honestly don't see a supermax, given what Pops said after game two against the Warriors, linked in my original piece. And, I honestly don't see Kawhi wanting to say without one.

So, that leaves a trade.

(Update, June 15: Kawhi, according to Yahoo's Shams Charania, wants out. On Twitter, Woj says the Lake Show is his preferred destination.

Update, June 19: Leonard and Pops finally had that long-awaited meeting. And ... Kawhi said he'd been deliberately dodging Pops and didn't like either Pops or Tony Parker for comments he felt weren't supportive of him. 

Lemme see ... the TP comments came after that player meeting shortly before the playoffs, the one where he said "my injury's worse"? Well, at least on paper, it WAS worse. Surprised he didn't throw Manu under the bus when Ginobili essentially said "He's dead to me for this season."

This is broken. Trade his ass. If he's hide-bound to go to LA in a year, trade him, even if not to either the Lake Show or the Clips. Get what you can.)

ESPN offers four possible good options, including the one Dwyane Wade first mentioned — the Celtics.

(Update, June 13: Red Satan has now expanded this to seven options in a new post, including two different Celtics trades, and tweaked the suggested return from the Sixers and Lakers.)

The other three? The Lake Show, Wade's own Heat, and the Sixers.

IMO, the Sixers offers the best deal for both teams. Markelle Fultz gets out from potential ongoing scrutiny in Philly and improves the Spurs backcourt a lot, if he gets anywhere near his potential. Dario Saric adds somebody younger to the team, with a fair upside, especially if he can play a stretch 5 in the occasional small ball lineup.. Jerryd Bayless is a nothingburger, really, but would offer additional depth at guard if Tony Parker joins Manu Ginobili in retiring sooner rather than later, and besides, the ESPNers say that Brandon Paul should go back to the Sixers. But, the Lakers' first-round draft choice is big.

I call it medium risk, high reward for both teams. (The revised version has Covington instead of Saric; it would be no worse.)

Second in order of favor? Kawhi and Patty Mills to the Heat.

Coming back? Goran Dragic headlines a package of Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo.

Even more than the Sixers trade, this makes the Spurs younger, setting aside Dragic.

ESPN says he would mesh well with LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as dramatically improving them at the point. Well, yes, but ...

He's never been fantastic on D and he's been in the league a full decade.

Let's look at the rest of the package.

Adebayo, a rookie with upside, would be a nice addition. But, the Heat would have to decide whether they want to trade him given production and mindset falloff from Hassan Whiteside. Winslow is nice, though I'm not as sold on him as ESPN is, and I note he lost minutes this year compared to last year. Not good for a third-year player. Richardson might be a younger, more athletic Danny Green.

Risk is medium to medium-high for the Spurs. Return is probably the same.

Risk is medium for Miami, maybe medium-low if Whiteside can be encouraged to get his act together.

Third? Kawhi to Boston for Kyrie Irving plus Boston's first-round pick, and whatever else Pops can get.

First, though he has no no-trade, would Kyrie like this? More immediately first, his knee has to check out as well as Kawhi's tendon. Second, would Danny Ainge do this?

Fourth? The Lake Show. Kawhi straight up for Brandon Ingram. (The revised version has three players and would be better for the Spurs.)

No. I'm not that impressed by Ingram. Lakers gotta throw me more than that.

From the Spurs POV? Focusing only on desirability, not likelihood, I give the Sixers trade an A, the Heat one a B/B+, the Celtics a B and the Lakers a D.

And, in the spirit of that, I offer a fifth, with two options.

The Pelicans, as ESPN notes here, need to decide whether to give Boogie Cousins a supermax, or some lesser extension, or let him walk a year from now.

Rather than resigning Cousins for a mid-level contract and trading him to another team for a wing player and a draft pick, it would be a resigned Cousins plus the Pellies first-rounder going to San Antonio for Kawhi. If that seems a bit high, the Spurs can throw in somebody like Brandon Paul, or give back their second-rounder.

That drastically changes the Spurs on both sides of the ball, no doubt. They become slower at times on offense, and more problematic defensively.

But, a healthy Cousins could hit the three-ball. He rebounded and blocked shots.

I give this one a C.


Sidebar: I wouldn't be totally surprised if Pops retires. I think odds, to the degree I would estimate odds, are against, but it wouldn't surprise me.


Sidebar 2: ESPN reports on the background of the semi-split. It notes changes in Kawhi's sports agency team are part of the problem. Bigger problem, some might say, is his Uncle Dennis. His rejection of a new Nike contract, for example, to me makes him sound like a junior version of Daddy Ball. And, we all know how brilliant LaVar Ball is. Just ask him.


Sidebar 3/May 9 update: ESPN suggests another trade, with Leonard and Gay going to the Raptors for DeRozan and and other pieces. I would rate this a C.


cactusflinthead said...

Dennis Robertson might be in banking, but I don't think he's going to get a better deal than the 22 million Nike offered.

Can he veto a deal if it is made? I can't see the team offering a max deal unless it is a sign and trade.

It just seems like there is a lot of bad juju around an uncle that has already screwed one deal and wants to force a trade to LA, NY or Philly.

Gadfly said...

Cactus, I'm totally with you ... and I need to put a poll up on my homepage about which of the trade options people support. I'll get that in a minute.