Day after day, more negative news is coming out about Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs. The damage is already done, and it seems as if his relationship with Gregg Popovich, the team, and its fans will never be the same.
Rather than offering him a contract extension this summer or waiting until 2019 where can opt-out of his contract, San Antonio may look to get value in return for the superstar forward.
Below are three realistic trade destinations for Leonard. Realistic in the fact that the trades all would be even swaps, as well as that the team who would acquire him would have enough money to re-sign him. It won’t be easy to acquire Leonard, but with enough pull, a few teams can make it happen.
3. Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns are a young, talented team who are one piece away from taking the next step in the Western Conference. Place Devin Booker alongside a player like Kawhi Leonard and they could become one of the best duos in the NBA. Though Josh Jackson would be traded in the deal, a few key free-agent moves could give this team a solid base around Booker and Leonard.
The deal works on both ends. San Antonio would be getting Josh Jackson and Alex Len, two young guys who Gregg Popovich could shape into stars. Len would fill the center position of Pau Gasol who turns 38 in July. Oh, and don’t forget the first-round pick and veteran guard Jared Dudley which could furthermore push the trade to be completed.
San Antonio Spurs Recieve: Josh Jackson, Alex Len, Jared Dudley, Miami Heat 2018 first-round pick.
Phoenix Suns Recieve: Kawhi Leonard
2. Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are not in a good spot right now. With Blake Griffin traded to Detroit, there is no longer a desire for free-agents to go there with Griffin’s stardom. Sure, DeAndre Jordan, Tobias Harris, and Patrick Beverley round out a solid roster, but they need a move to make them guaranteed contenders. Los Angeles would welcome in southern California’s own, Kawhi Leonard in a deal.
In the deal, Leonard would replace Tobias Harris at the small forward slot and European sensation Milos Teodosic would become their starting point guard. Los Angeles would give up a lot but would get one of the best players in the league in return.
San Antonio Spurs Recieve: Tobias Harris, Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, 2018 first-round-pick, Clippers, 2019 second-round pick.
Los Angeles Clippers Recieve: Kawhi Leonard
1. Los Angeles Lakers
Kawhi Leonard to the Los Angeles Lakers seems to be the trade everyone wants to see. Leonard would be the Lakers’ biggest name since Kobe Bryant. But in order for it to work, Los Angeles would have to give up a number of potential stars, as well as hope they would be able to afford to re-sign Leonard in 2019 for the supermax deal he desires worth upward of $200 million.
The trade wouldn’t be easy to solve, as San Antonio would want young talent in Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle. Josh Hart and a second-round pick could be the deciding factor in the trade. DeJounte Murray is a great example of what Gregg Popovich can do with young talent, and he can work his magic with these three projects.
San Antonio Spurs Recieve: Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Josh Hart, 2018 second-round pick.
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Kawhi Leonard
The talk of the NBA world prior to the 2019 NBA Trade Deadline was New Orleans Pelicans fo…