One thing is for sure, Kawhi Leonard is going to be traded this offseason. The question is which team has the resources to make a deal for him? There are many teams that simply do not have enough to make the deal worth it for San Antonio; however, there are also teams that have the resources, but would have to give up too much to make the salaries work. Let’s take a look at some of the possible options.
Boston Celtics: The Celtics have the best chance to land Kawhi, according to Vegas. Let’s take a look at the ways they could acquire him.
Kawhi for Kyrie: This is the simplest trade. Trading two guys who are going to opt out at the end of the year to try to get more money. I just don’t see where this trade benefits the Celtics. Maybe they don’t believe that Kyrie is committed to staying next year, but with Kawhi already saying that he prefers LA or New York, it seems like we’ll have a better chance convincing Kyrie to stay then Kawhi. Also, on the Spurs side, Kyrie might be a superstar himself, but he is opting out at the end of the year, and what is going to keep him in San Antonio? The idea of it is fun, but I don’t see how it benefits either team. Consensus: Please Don’t Do it, Danny
Kawhi and others for Al Horford and a 1st: The Celtics have a few first round picks coming up. I wouldn’t be willing to give up the Sacramento pick, but you could convince me to give up the Memphis pick, which is top 15 protected for the next 2 years, and then unprotected in 2021, and certainly the Clippers pick, which is top 14 protected for the next few years, and turns into a 2nd rounder in 2021. Now, the Spurs would have to add a few guys to make the money work, but maybe they’d be willing to give up a few of those guys. It would also work if they swapped Patty Mills for Terry Rozier, if they believed that Rozier could be their starting PG this year and really wanted to get the deal done. This might be the best scenario for the Celtics, if they really want acquire Leonard. Consensus: San Antonio Turns it Down
Kawhi for Every Member of the Celtics not named Irving, Horford, Hayward, or Tatum: I blew up Twitter the other day because I suggested trading Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier for Kawhi, but in truth, the Celtics would have to add a lot more players to make the money work. The actual names would be: Morris, Brown, Yabu, Rozier, Semi, and Nadar. Yes, a lot of those guys are role players. No, I am not trading my entire bench for one player. Consensus: 12 for 1 Trades Don’t Happen, and Don’t Make Sense
Celtics Chances: Not Great. In order to get the deal done, either Boston or San Antonio would have to give up too much. Again, the Kyrie deal might be the easiest one. A superstar for a superstar, and the money works, but I still don’t think it benefits either the Celtics or the Spurs.
Los Angeles Lakers: The Spurs don’t want to trade him to the West, but this is where he wants to go, so let’s see what they could do.
Kawhi for Luol Deng: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…(trying to catch my breath) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Consensus: That Was Fun
Kawhi for Lonzo and Channing Frye: To make the money work, the Lakers would have to add a bench player here, but the two names are Lonzo and Frye. This is actually a halfway decent deal, if they threw in their first rounder in 2019 or beyond, it might actually be enough to convince the Spurs to trade him to LA, if they weren’t dead set on getting him out of the West. Consensus: Could Work, But Spurs Aren’t Trading Him to LA
Lakers Chances: Almost Zero. They have some pieces that could make a possible deal work, but there doesn’t seem to be a chance that the Spurs would deal with any Western Conference team, especially not the Lakers.
New York Knicks: They haven’t necessarily been linked to Kawhi, but, if he wants to build his brand, as people say, the bright lights of New York could certainly help do that.
Kawhi for Tim Hardaway Jr and #9: This is the only deal that comes close to making sense. Joakim Noah has the salary that would work as well, but it’s Joakim Noah. The Knicks would be risking giving up a top 10 pick, but switching Hardaway for Leonard would be a serious upgrade. Of course, the question would be if they could sign him long term, but if they grew his brand enough this year, they work have a solid pitch. Plus, with him and Porzingis, and if you believe Frank can play PG, they would have at least a playoff worthy team.
Knicks Chances: Almost certainly not going to happen. I find it extremely unlikely that the Spurs would be interested in this deal, unless on draft night a guy they love falls to #9.
Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers are second in the odds of who Kawhi will be playing for next year. Let’s take a look at how they can make that happen.
Kawhi for Fultz, Bayless, and #10: Out of all the trades that can be made, this is probably the one that makes the most sense for both sides. It would obviously mean that the 76ers would be giving up on Fultz just a year after drafting him #1 overall, but the opportunity to get a real superstar could be too good for them to pass up. With the depth this year, the Spurs could start their rebuild right now with two young potential cornerstones.
Philly’s Chances: I think this is the spot that makes the most sense for Kawhi to land. The Sixers are building to win right now, but they also have the assets to get him without giving up one of their best players. If I were the one betting, I’d put my money on Kawhi playing in Philadelphia next season.
After looking at all of the options, it seems that Philly makes the most sense for both sides. Every other team would have to either give up too much, or would not be able to give the Spurs enough to make it worth it for them. Obviously, there’s no way to know for sure where he’ll go, and, if I were the Spurs, I would wait until the draft to see who falls before trading Kawhi. One would have to assume if they are going to make the deal, that they will start the rebuilding process, and getting young players is the best way to do that. Again, making the deal with the Sixers gives them the best chance to have those young players make an immediate impact.
Photo: Clutch Points
Pat is the host of the Weekend Warrior Podcast
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