From B/R’s Ken Berger:
Nonetheless, another Western Conference executive said teams are “lining up to try to do something” in the event the Spurs decide to trade Leonard this summer. Through back channels, those teams have gotten the brush-off from the Spurs.
“The Spurs want to try to make things work right now and aren’t interested,” the exec said.
It makes sense that the Spurs want to try making things work. Trading Leonard, a top-five player when healthy, could set them back years. There’s no telling how much they can get for him on the trade market these days. Not only will he enter free agency next summer (player option), but he appeared in just nine games this season while recovering from a right quad injury that might not even fully healed.
Teams will still pony up assets for him. He’s Kawhi Leonard. But most aren’t in the habit of mortgaging futures for players on expiring contracts who are working their way back from a serious injury. Someone could make an exception for Leonard. Shoot, someone probably will make an exception for him. But his trade market won’t be what you’d expect for someone of his stature.
Of course, the Spurs actually have to start shopping him first. Gregg Popovich has smoothed things over with one player already, in LaMarcus Aldridge. Perhaps reconciling with Leonard won’t be that difficult. And yet, even if Pop comes to the rescue, the Spurs aren’t off the hook. They must decide whether Leonard is worth the super-max extension for which he’s eligible. That’s a tough call to make given everything that’s happened over the last year, from his injury to his relationship with the team. At the same time, if they don’t give it to him, they open themselves up to a slew of other potential problems.
So just in case you didn’t know already, San Antonio is in for a pivotal summer.