Kawhi Leonard is the NBA Finals MVP and a guy Gregg Popovich has called the future of the Spurs. Sounds like the kind of guy who would warrant a max contract extension to his rookie contract.
That’s what he wants, but Leonard and the Spurs are nowhere close on extension talks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Which means he could be a restricted free agent next summer
As Kawhi Leonard holds firm on his desire for a maximum contract, extension talks with the San Antonio Spurs have failed to gather traction despite a looming Friday deadline, league sources told Yahoo Sports….
Spurs president and general manager R.C. Buford and agent Brian Elfus have had several discussions in recent weeks, but no progress has been made, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
It’s pretty simple from where I sit: If Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons can get big money as small forwards on the open market, Kawhi Leonard is worth that as well. He has every right to demand the Spurs offer five years, $90 million. Leonard averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds last season, then upped that to 14.3 points and 6.7 points in the playoffs — in the last three games of the Finals he had better than 20 points a night plus covered LeBron James.
The Spurs have been the masters of getting guys to take less — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and others — but this is Leonard’s first big contract after his rookie deal. This early in your career you don’t take pay cuts, that’s for the veterans.
Several other teams would step up with max offers (for four year, according to Wojnarowski, but I really wonder if that is true — everyone knows the Spurs would simply match the offer, so why tie up $15 million a year in cash when teams know they aren’t going to get the player? (Once Leonard signs the offer sheet that team can’t spend that money until the Spurs match, a process that can take up to three days. That’s an eternity in the hight of the free agent frenzy of July.) This is the situation that kept Eric Bledsoe without an offer from another team for much of the summer (although there is more of a demand for good small of as opposed to point guards).
Bottom line, there is zero chance the Spurs let Leonard go, the only question is how much they pay him.