This summer’s free-agent class will be headlined by Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo and (probably) Kevin Love. But there’s also a crop of restricted free agents who may be tough to get, but will undoubtedly draw offers all over the league: guys like Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green and Brandon Knight.
A new report by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe links the Celtics to one of the most high-profile and accomplished restricted guys who will be on the market, Kawhi Leonard.
Kawhi Leonard said he is 100 percent healthy again, giving the Spurs their most versatile player back for the stretch run. Leonard will be a restricted free agent this summer and will receive his share of offer sheets, likely including one from the Celtics. Boston coach Brad Stevens gushed about Leonard’s defensive prowess.
Leonard is exactly the kind of player you’d expect Ainge to go after, a legitimate star and game-changer on the defensive end. He’d join Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart in one of the most formidable perimeter defense units in the league.
Of course, his fit with the Celtics — or anyone else — is completely irrelevant because there’s no way that the Spurs will let the 2014 Finals MVP walk. They didn’t agree to an extension before the October 31 deadline, but with Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan coming off the books (and, sadly, more than likely retiring), plus the upcoming jump in salary cap, San Antonio will undoubtedly offer him a max-level contract that will be well deserved. Other teams may try to get creative like the Mavericks did to steal Chandler Parsons from the Rockets last summer, but the Spurs’ track record speaks for itself. They don’t lose their superstars, and Leonard is the face of the post-Duncan era. Some of the other restricted free agents may be attainable for the right price, but any hope of another team actually prying Leonard away from San Antonio falls strictly in the category of “wishful thinking.”
Not that the Celtics (or anyone) shouldn’t at least give his agent a call. You always have to do your due diligence when someone like that is available. But don’t expect to see Leonard in green and white anytime soon.