Is Kawhi Leondard on the move?
Danny Green on Kawhi Leonard:
"We all text him. We’re in touch with him. He’s still a very much part of this group, this team. We still have his back. From the team’s perspective, there is no one that is at odds with him.” (via In The Zone Podcast) pic.twitter.com/nCUtCHonW4
— Spurs Nation (@SA_Spurs_Nation) April 4, 2018
The perennial NBA All-Defensive Team forward is rumoured to be on his way to a new locale following a season-ending injury, and a disappointing playoff run by the Spurs. It is apparent that the two sides have had a falling out, and all signs point to a quick and decisive exit for a player once considered the future face of the franchise. Given that he was cleared to play prior to the 1st round playoff series with the Golden State Warriors, but chose to continue rehabilitation on his quad injury, speculation is high that Kawhi will find himself on a new roster at the start of the 2018-2019 NBA season. With the option to opt out of his contract in 2019, it seems inevitable that the Spurs will move Kawhi to get the most value while they can.
Where does Kawhi fit? A defensive all-star with offensive all-star abilities. Some regard him as the best two-way player in the league. There are many teams that can use a veteran presence, such as his, to bolster their rosters and look towards building a contender for the upcoming season.
We’ll look at 5 possible destinations (in no particular order) for the man dubbed “The Claw”.
1. The Los Angeles Lakers
There have been many rumblings about the Lakers making moves to create a Golden Warrior Slayer. With constant rumours about Lebron James heading out west, the addition of Leonard would create a bonafide one-two punch that would make some serious waves. Even without Lebron, this is an inviting idea for Lakers fans looking for a standout star. This would be a homecoming for Kawhi, a Los Angeles native, and would bolster their offense, but it would come with a catch. One of their young and upcoming stars would have to go the other way, being either Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma. They would likely have to throw in a high draft pick in order to get that deal done.
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) May 18, 2018
2. The Philadelphia 76’ers
Are we still trusting the process? The 76’ers made an improbable playoff run behind the efforts of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, all the way to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. For a team that won a combined 47 games over three complete seasons just two years ago, there has been a serious resurgence of the Philadelphia franchise. Leonard would add a veteran presence to a young team. Although they gained some playoff experience this season, his finals appearances and experience would be an invaluable asset. The Spurs would likely be interested in 2017 1st overall pick Markelle Fultz as well as a couple of other role players to make this deal happen.
Markelle Fultz can't wait to prove himself next season.https://t.co/6L1RNSkQTC
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 14, 2018
3. The Cleveland Cavaliers
Yes, THOSE Cavaliers. The unstoppable force that is King James and his cast of merry men. A team that many wrote off early in the season, but have once again made their way to the cusp of the NBA Finals and the Eastern Conference Championship. Kawhi has made it clear that he would love the chance to play with 2018 MVP Candidate Lebron James (then again, who wouldn’t?). With mounting anticipation of Lebron’s departure, could Kawhi be the key to having him remain in Cleveland? There are many options available to make this work, including the Nets first round pick in this years upcoming draft.