Kawhi Leonard's 2017-2018 season with the San Antonio Spurs was disappointing, to say the least. Marred by injury, Leonard never managed to make an impact on the court and spent most of on the sidelines. Making the situation all the worse are rumblings out of San Antonio that Kawhi and "his group" may be looking for a change of scenery come this October. There aren't many accolades in the NBA that are left for Kawhi Leonard left to check off on his bucket list, but at only 26 years old, he still has plenty of years to pad to his impressive and eventual Hall of Fame worthy career. The only question is, where is Kawhi going to continue his legacy?
Sports blogs around the world are racing to put together their best potential offers and reasons as to why Kawhi is, or isn't, the right fit for their team. Below we have some of the best ones out there, as well as looking objectively at what teams should be in contention for Kawhi. Though we hate to break it to some of you, as we also count off 7 teams that seemingly won't be showing any interest in adding Kawhi to their lineup. As well as the one reason (or should we say the $219 million reason) as to why Kawhi may still find himself in Silver by the end of all of this.
With an insider out of the Clippers camp also saying that a package is starting to be put together, the rumours are already starting. Now it's just time to learn about what teams have their hat in the ring and who is going to be, like Kawhi, watching this game from the sidelines.
16 Could: The Charlotte Hornets
There are many things that the Charlotte Hornets could start to improve on when it comes to basketball. But it's hard to argue with the tremendous performance of Kemba Walker. But when owner Michael Jordan was asked by the Charlotte Observer about the potential of Walker being traded out of town, he didn't rule out the possibility. Instead, he stated it would need to just be for a player who is the type of caliber that Kawhi Leonard is.
You know Michael Jordan wants to put a winning team out there and Leonard definitely knows what it feels like to be part of a winning culture.
And while we don't know if trading Walker away is the way to do it, Jordan saying that Walker would be on the table if a player like Kawhi is in contention is reason enough to keep a close eye on Charlotte.
15 Couldn't: The Boston Celtics
Injuries are one of the toughest things to deal with in the NBA. Something that the Boston Celtics, who are playing a team devoid of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, are well aware of. Danny Ainge is no stranger to making big splashes through trades, but it's hard to imagine a situation where Kawhi Leonard is suiting up in Celtics green next year.
Most of the talk around the potential trading partner for a deal to bring Kawhi into town centers around Jayson Tatum. Though journalist Paul Flannery inside writer for SB Nation has stated, "Nobody is untouchable in Danny’s world. But he (Tatum) has to be close to the top." It's possible that they put a deal together, but the odds may not be in their favour.
14 Could: The Portland Trail Blazers
If the Portland Trail Blazers end their season with another disappointing performance in the playoffs, fans are going to start to grumble for a change. Especially if Damian Lillard or C.J. McCollum fail to show up when it matters. And while you can probably bank on Lillard not leaving town, C.J. may not be feeling as safe. ESPN's trade tracker allows a succesful trade that sees C.J. and Nurkic being sent over to San Antonio, with Leonard and Danny Green coming to Portland.
Kawhi's consistency, at least when he's on the court and playoff composure is something that Lillard may be able to learn from immensely.
Pop's also great with big men and could help bring Nurkic's game to that next level.
13 Couldn't: The Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors would have to move a big name to help bring in someone as talented as Kawhi Leonard. And if someone like DeMar DeRozan ended up leaving town, the riot that Vancouver had after the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs may look like nothing. And while they may be a little less upset if Lowry was somehow traded away, the results would probably still be nothing pretty.
Toronto is one of the best teams in the league this year because of their tremendous chemistry and their great drafting as of late which has helped lead to arguably the deepest bench in the league. Leonard's great, but you shouldn't expect to see Toronto's name get swung into the trade rumors.
12 Could: The Miami Heat
Heat writer Ryan Yousefi is definitely high on the potential of bringing Kawhi Leonard to town. Writing in an article for Miami new times, "Leonard is the perfect fit for the Heat culture. Leonard is a soft-spoken, lead-by-example sort of guy." Which is definitely an accurate assessment. The only question is what would the Heat have to give up to reel in Leonard? Yousefi would float the idea of Justice Winslow and Hassan Whiteside the Spurs way and see what bites.
It's definitely not what the entire trade package would end up looking like, but the Heat could be the perfect team to try and hammer out the right move. ESPN's trade tracker also approves a deal that would see Winslow and Dragic moving to San Antonio with Dejounte Murray and Kawhi heading to Miami.
11 Couldn't: The New York Knicks
The New York Knicks were dealt a devastating blow when Kristaps Porzingis went down with an injury this past year. Which makes the idea of going anywhere near a player who also couldn't finish the year due to injury a bit concerning. Maxwell Ogden over at DailyKnicks are also defensive over the idea of having to trade away their first-round pick. Though it's hard to imagine a player coming off the board that would ever live up to the potential of what Kawhi brings.
Adding to the 2018 pick was the idea of their 2020 pick as well as Frank Ntilikina and Tim Hardaway Jr. All of which may add to the idea that while the Knicks may play in the bright lights of New York, they may stay in the shadows for this rumor.
10 Could: The Cleveland Cavaliers
There is no question that while LeBron James is a tremendous athlete, that there are some games where it is evident that he can only do so much. Now just imagine Lebron suiting up with Kawhi Leonard? Y'know, provided Lebron is also in Cleveland! The writer, Quenton Albertie, put together several potential packages that could help bring Leonard into Ohio.
The most appealing deal sees Cleveland shipping George Hill and Tristan Thompson out of town, along with the 1st round pick they've acquired by Brooklyn.
In exchange, Leonard and Gasol would come to town. Hill has experience playing with Popovich at the start of his career and given the recent news with Khloe, Tristan may definitely be looking for a change of scenery!
9 Couldn't: The Dallas Mavericks
The high draft pick of the Dallas Mavericks is going to make them an appealing potential trading partner for any NBA team. But when it comes to potentially bringing in the services of Kawhi Leonard, writers at Mavs money ball aren't necessarily convinced that the correct package out there exists for him.
"If I’m calling the shots, trading this pick would require a starting point of a proven young star. That means getting back an established player under 25 years old," said Jordan. A reminder that Kawhi is 26 and obviously should have at least some injury concerns going forward. While there is no doubt that the Mavericks should consider an offer, they need to make sure what they get back is a wide range of talent and going after Kahwi may not be the way to do it.
8 Could: The Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves are one of the most promising teams in the league. Helped in part by their young core that includes Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. But the writers over at dunking with wolves feel that parting with the latter would be a necessary cost if it means bringing Leonard to Minnesota.
The package put together also included a 1st round pick, as well as Tyus Jones being sent out to San Antonio. While it'd be hard to imagine the Wolves parting with a player as promising as Wiggins, there's no question that the experience of Leonard could help bring them to that next level. Jimmy Butler may also be an appealing player that could be included in a deal if the Spurs are not interested in Wiggins.
7 Couldn't: The 76ers
The Philadelphia '76ers have put their fanbase through a lot over the last few years, but they've been told to just trust the process. It seems like things have finally paid off for the team and despite the struggles of Fultz this year, they made the playoffs. And considering most of their talent is young, such as Ben Simmons, you can imagine they're going to come back with an even stronger effort next year.
There's no realistic trade scenario that Philly should try and put together to try and bring Kawhi Leonard into the picture.
Leonard is amazing, but the team trusts the process that brought everyone together and now isn't the time to blow up what would have to be a core of that to land Leonard.
6 Could: The Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards are a talented NBA team but are looking for the player who can help take them to that next level. John Wall knows he can ball, but is he ever going to be able to win a championship in Washington with the way things are going?
The blog site bulletsforever.com put together a package that they feel would be deserving of having Kawhi Leonard coming back their way. This includes their 1st Round Pick from 2019 being packaged with Otto Porter, Tomas Satoransky, and Markieff Morris in exchange for Kawhi and Pau Gasol. Regardless of your thoughts on this potential package that would go San Antonio's way, you can expect Washington to be a potential player in the Kawhi sweepstakes.
5 Couldn't: The Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are definitely familiar with the feeling of yanking a big-time player in the offseason when they brought Kevin Durant. Something that we're sure they would say they have no regrets about doing. But the potential package they'd have to put together to bring Kawhi Leonard to San Francisco isn't one they should start considering
On top of having to trade out a proven player who has shown chemistry with the team, such as Klay, isn't a risk that the team needs to take. Especially because while Leonard would help the team out, it's not like they need that added assistance to try and get to that next level. If the team wants to stay dominant in the future, it will be through making sure they can keep smart with their drafting and not trading away what clearly works.
4 Could: The Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers fanbase are no stranger to having some of their most beloved players, such as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, leaving town. Reports out of USA Today are also starting to stir that the Clippers have started to put together a potential package that would see Leonard coming to Los Angeles.
The insider cites Leonard's strong relationship with Jerry West who works with the Clippers, as well as his growing up in Moreno Valley which is located near LA as being some of the reasons as to why the Clippers may be strong contenders. What would they have to give up? The insider hinted at both of the Clippers upcoming 1st round draft picks, as well as a potential player. At the very least, you know the Spurs are going to be listening if the Clippers come calling.
3 Couldn't: The Los Angeles Lakers
There may never be a player that is going to come along for the Los Angeles Lakers and ever get to the level that Kobe Bryant did. And that's perfectly fair because the bar he set is insanely high. But there is no question that Kawhi Leonard can still be considered one of the most dominant players in the league when he is on the court. But if you look at the Lakers roster, you may struggle to find a package that could come together that could put Leonard in LA. At least, not in LA in a Lakers uniform. Most of the potential trade talk, as expressed on LASportsHub, revolves around the potential of Brandon Ingram leaving town.
Something that the fanbase on the site, at the very least, were adamantly against. The 2nd overall pick in 2016 and only 20 years old, it's easy to see why the fanbase would be upset. That being said, the writers on the site were still on board with the idea, which perhaps makes the Lakers a murky middle ground when it comes to Kawhi rumors.
2 Could: The Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC is no stranger to letting some of the best players in the entire league walk out of town. The question is, would they let it happen again if it meant bringing Kawhi in?
ESPN's trade tracker estimates that the easiest way to try and pull this off would be to start by dangling Paul George.
With similar salaries, at the very least that component would be easy enough for the two teams to start working around. The question is if OKC would be willing to part with some of their smaller assets or future picks to bring Kawhi in. It may not be the best trade for the franchise, but it's one that will at the very least get talked about.
1 Couldn't: Why The Spurs Say No To Everyone
While the story may not be as juicy, at the end of the day, there is a very real chance that Kawhi stays in San Antonio. Because while the talks of Popovich mentioning Kawhi and "his group" are concerning, Kawhi does seem to respect the overall culture that Popovich and crew have brought to San Antonio.
The franchise is also not immune to working through their difficulties with players, as seen in the past with LaMarcus Aldrige.
If Leonard stays, he also runs the chance of being offered a supermax contract by the Spurs that would see him there for the next 5 years, but to the tune of $219 million. Which is a whole lot of money he can earn if he just comes out and talks about how much he loves being in San Antonio. He's won it all in San Antonio before, the question is, does he want to prove that he do it there again?