It was a fun NBA parlor game over the past months: Who can put together the best trade package and land Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs (then re-sign him).
It was always more thought exercise than reality-based, Gregg Popovich and the Spurs were going to roll over at the first sign of trouble and move one of the game’s five-best players (when healthy). When teams called and asked about Leonard’s availability they were quickly shot down.
If Leonard is going to become available, things are going to have to reach the point of no return fast — and they are not trending that way. Following on the heels of other reports, Jabari Young of the Express-News is reporting that the big summit between Leonard and Popovich is happening soon.
League sources tell the Express-News that head coach Gregg Popovich and Leonard are trying to schedule a meeting, possibly this week, to discuss any issues or concerns Leonard may have, and hopefully come to a decision on offering Leonard the five-year, $219 million supermax extension he is eligible to receive.
Leonard, who is still rehabbing from his quad injury, is close to feeling 100 percent — “He’s at 96, 97 percent,” a source told the Express-News — and anticipates being ready for the start training camp in September.
I will add I have heard from sources that — like any big summit meeting — a lot of groundwork has been laid for this one and that the sides are in a better place with each other than things seemed a couple of months ago. Things can go sideways still, but around the league the trade talk around Leonard has slowed as it looks like his marriage with San Antonio will continue.
It’s amazing how $219 million can solve a lot of problems.
The Lakers initially called LeBron James day-to-day with the groin injury he suffered on Christmas.
He missed more than five weeks.
Maybe he should have sat even longer.
Karen Joubert, via Complex Sports:
Maybe LeBron returned too soon. This injury allowed that, even if it put him at risk of reaggravation if not fully recovered.
Maybe LeBron just healed especially quickly. Even among world-class athletes, he is an elite athlete.
Maybe Joubert is exaggerating. People tend to do that with LeBron’s body.
There’s plenty of room for interpretation, but it sure looked like LeBron was still hobbled.
What does this mean for LeBron and the Lakers going forward?
The pessimistic spin: LeBron did lasting damage to his body by returning so soon. This (failed) attempt to get the Lakers into the playoffs this season will undermine him in the future.
The optimistic spin: LeBron has still been excellent these last few weeks. If he gets fully healthy during his longest offseason in 14 years, he should be even better next season.
Kyrie Irving spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers. He developed into a star with them. He won a title with them, even hitting the championship-winning shot.
With Irving’s Celtics playing in Cleveland tomorrow, Irving reflected on his time there.
Jared Weiss of The Athletic:
Irving is so clearly over the Cavs.
He was probably over the Cavs even while playing for them.
The Lakers have had a rough season.
Last night went pretty well, though – especially for one fan.
The Lakers beat the Kings, and this fan swished a halfcourt shot to win $45,000.
The Lakers need more outside shooting. Maybe they could turn to some of their fans.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is undeniable.
Watch this video. He’s the only Bucks player in sight on the court. All five Cavaliers appear. Antetokounmpo dunks anyway.
He dribbles past Jordan Clarkson then through David Nwaba and Tristan Thompson. Nik Stauskas and Brandon Knight are shading close enough to narrow his potential path. None of it matters.
Antetokounmpo scores inside unlike anyone anyone we’ve ever seen.