The mystery surrounding San Antonio Spurs’ superstar Kawhi Leonard during the NBA season has seemingly made a perfect entrance into free agency as numerous reports have surrounded the 27 year-old and his failing relationship with his organization.
The young superstar has long been deemed mysterious, but nothing previously said about him would compare to what could be said about him after this season. In a season that was full of chaos, mystery and “betrayal”, Kawhi has kept his focus in the same place: going to LA.
The Lakers might be willing to wait and pursue Kawhi Leonard in free agency next off-season, per @Woj. This could prove to be a foolish move, look what happened with Paul George.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) July 4, 2018
To better understand the situation, you must first understand what led to the issues. Kawhi suffered a quad injury early in the year and, later on in the year, the Spurs’ medical team deemed him “ready for action.” Kawhi felt as if his injury was not being understood by the team doctors and was being mishandled by them. People in Kawhi’s “circle” convinced him to seek several opinions from different doctors until they found one who agreed with them. Teammates and former players commented on the severity of the situation, some taking different views than others, causing tension between Kawhi and the Spurs.
When free agency finally knocked on the Spurs’ door this summer, Kawhi’s demand was clear: trade me to LA.
So that about brings us to the present, where trade talks between Magic Johnson and the Spurs are rumored to have failed thus far, unfortunately for Kawhi. In recent days though, a report has surfaced saying that San Antonio was willing to trade Kawhi to the Lakers for Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, two first round picks and two draft pick swaps. The most likely reason the Lakers have yet to bite on this offer is because Magic Johnson has said he would like to keep his young core together. He also stated that Kyle Kuzma will not be involved in any trade talks this off-season.
The next report that is leading Lakers’ fans to believe Kawhi may not play in the purple and gold states that he would rather play on teams such as the 76ers or the Clippers, simply because he would rather not play on a LeBron-led team. The most likely reason for his thinking is because he would rather not play along side LeBron as a second-option on offense, being that he has yet to play that role on a team in his career. Another possible reason Kawhi would think this way is that if he believes that the Lakers will not change their minds in trade talks, then he can still join the Clippers, another LA team, and could still be the first option on that squad.
— Complex (@Complex) July 4, 2018
One of the latest reports released about him is possibly the strangest one the NBA world has heard thus far. It came from ESPN’s Michael Wright on his “Back to Back” podcast and it runs like this:
“There was a point during [Kawhi’s] rehab process in New York that some of the Spurs [associates] went out to see him in New York. As soon as those guys arrived at the building, Kawhi’s people grabbed him and sequestered him to another part of the building. And so the Spurs’ people couldn’t even see him”
This report only adds to the mixture of mystery surrounding the dysfunctional relationship between Kawhi and the Spurs organization.
According to @mikecwright who covers the Spurs, believes Kawhi Leonard’s perfered destination is actually the Clippers, not Lakers.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) July 5, 2018
When reading these reports, you must keep in mind that the Spurs hold a certain amount of leverage in this situation as Kawhi does not become a free agent until next summer, meaning that the Spurs do not have to deal him immediately. Although it does put a bit of pressure on the Spurs to deal him now because if they wait until next season, they run the risk of letting him walk as a free agent.
This situation will likely be the most polarizing story to follow as the NBA’s free agency period continues to roll on.