A single tweet by San Antonio Express-News’ Jabari Young set the basketball world on fire and it read:
— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) June 15, 2018
Kawhi Leonard has requested a trade from the San Antonio Spurs, but what it will take to land him is a bit of a wildcard. The two-time All-Star is coming off of a quad injury that forced him to miss almost all of the 2017-2018 season and only has one year left on his current contract. These two factors make it difficult to determine what exactly teams will be willing to part ways with to add Leonard to their squad.
That being said, here are five potential trade options for the Spurs superstar:
Kawhi gets his wish and goes to the Lakers
San Antonio gets: Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac and 2018 1st round pick (Cavs)
Los Angeles gets: Kawhi Leonard
Why would Los Angeles do it? The answer is simple, to become relevant again. While the Lakers front office has stated that they are focused on developing their young core, it is hard to fathom them passing up on the opportunity to land Kawhi Leonard. The addition of the former Finals MVP would make the Lakers an appealing destination for this offseason’s top free agents. Does Magic Johnson have a trick or two up his sleeve? Stay tuned to find out.
Why would San Antonio do it? If the Lakers offer the Spurs both Kuzma and Ingram, it’s a no-brainer. Gregg Popovich has previously stated that he will not trade the superstar to another team in the West, but personally, I believe the Spurs would for the right price. In this deal, San Antonio receives two guys who are young and can contribute right away. I think Brandon Ingram would flourish into a star in San Antonio and Kyle Kuzma would provide an instant spark off the bench.
Kawhi joins the process
San Antonio gets: Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric and the 76ers first round pick, No.10 overall
Philadelphia gets: Kawhi Leonard
Why would Philadelphia do it? For sustained success and self-preservation. The 76ers are going to be at the top of the East for the next decade, but if they do not add talent to their roster it will be tough for them to get past the Celtics. The Celtics easily dismissed the 76ers in the playoffs and they were not even at full strength. (Not to mention they are also interested in Kawhi Leonard). Philly needs an elite player who can shut down opposing teams stars and contribute offensively. Kawhi would make the 76ers a legitimate title contender.
Why would the Spurs do it? The Spurs would get a 6-foot-10 wing with a ton of promise and a point guard who could thrive under the tutelage of Popovich. Although being a bit of a work in progress, Fultz would provide San Antonio with a point guard for the future. Saric is a player who can do a bit of everything on the floor and could easily become a 16/7/5 type of player in the Spurs system.
The hold up in this trade will be is whether Philadelphia is ready to give up on last year’s first overall pick. Personally, I think they’ll gladly ship Saric, but they’ll need to add more if they want to get this deal done.
The C’s land Kawhi Leonard
Trade scenario 1 (A Celtics fan’s dream):
San Antonio gets: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier, Guerschon Yabusele, Semi Ojeleye and the Kings’ Top-1 protected 2019 first round pick
Boston gets: Kawhi Leonard
Why Boston would do it? A starting five of Irving, Hayward, Tatum, Leonard, and Horford would be dominant. It would be more than enough to dethrone LeBron (if he stays) and become the annual favorites in the East.
Why San Antonio would do it? This is a tougher sell for me. The Spurs would receive two promising young wings on their rookie deals and a phenomenal asset in Sacremento’s practically unprotected 2019 first-rounder. However, compared to what other teams can offer, I doubt the Spurs pull the trigger.
Trade scenario 2:
San Antonio gets: Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier, and the Kings pick
Boston gets: Kawhi Leonard
Why Boston would do it? As scary as this sounds, the Celtics proved this postseason that they do not need Kyrie Irving to be successful. Boston would be able to get Kawhi Leonard without having to give up much of the stockpile of assets Danny Ainge has collected over the years. Perhaps more importantly, this trade would solidify their position atop the East for years to come.
Why San Antonio would do it? If the Celtics offer Kyrie, it would be ridiculous for the Spurs not to take it. Kyrie Irving is the best potential player that the Spurs could hope to land. The point guard would electrify the Spurs offense and Terry Rozier would is the type of two-way player the Spurs love.
I believe the Celtics will push hard with that first offer or something similar, but if they want to separate themselves from the pack, they’ll have to part ways with Kyrie.
South Beach gets another superstar
San Antonio gets: Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Justice Winslow and Bam Adebayo
Miami gets: Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills
Why Miami would do it? The Heat fought valiantly this season, but Pat Riley understands that they are still nowhere close to as good as Boston or Philly. This trade allows them to add an elite two-way superstar and become a possible destination for other top free agents this offseason.
Why San Antonio would do it? Both Richardson and Winslow are significant upgrades from what the Spurs have had at wing this season. They both are the typical wings that basketball fans have become accustomed to seeing in San Antonio — defensive minded and athletic. Dragic is a serviceable guard who can facilitate the offense and Adebayo can provide much-needed depth for San Antonio.
The Kawhi sweepstakes are just getting started. Feel free to let me know your thoughts on twitter @BenParsons7.