Earlier in the week, we talked about how Kawhi Leonard’s camp denied a reported rift between him and the San Antonio Spurs organization. But that didn’t stop ESPN’s Jalen Rose from fanning the flames.
“Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio is what I’m hearing,” said Jalen Rose on First Take. “The reason why is twofold. One is they’ve been unable to attract elite level, All-NBA caliber free agents to come play with him. Think about this: the reason why, in my opinion, we always talk about players joining large market teams. We never say who’s going to San Antonio to play with Kawhi.
“Here is why I think players have not done that. The Spurs’ way looks like opportunity dressed in overalls. It looks like work and people really don’t want that.
“When you go to San Antonio, guess who is the CEO of that organization? Gregg Popovich. It’s going to be his way.
“So for Kawhi and also the way his injury situation was handled. You see him in the lineup, you see him out of the lineup. Is it his quad? What’s going on with his history? Was he misdiagnosed?
This reads like pretty damning stuff. And while any negative press pertaining to the Spurs and their relationship with incumbent players is difficult to believe, Rose’s sentiments are a bigger red flag than usual. San Antonio and LaMarcus Aldridge were both traveling divergent paths until this past summer, and both the organization and Leonard have admitted they’re miffed by his recovery from a right quad injury.
Head coach Greg Popovich isn’t worried, though. He made that much clear while speaking with reporters ahead of the Spurs’ Tuesday night victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers:
— Sports Night (@Sports_NightTX) January 23, 2018
This feels more par for the course. Even with all these reports, nothing directly links the Spurs and Leonard to a dissolution.
And besides, even if there was something wrong, the Spurs aren’t about to just trade Leonard. His value is hardly at an all-time high after missing most of this year, and if they were bent on working things out with an unhappy Aldridge, you better believe they’re prepared to do whatever it takes to make nice with one of the best players in franchise history.