Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs must repair their broken relationship before they offer him a super-max contract extension, which projects to be worth about $219 million over five years. He’ll be eligible for that extension between July 16 and the last day before the regular season.
Is it possible for Leonard to regain San Antonio’s faith that quickly?
History suggests the Spurs could want to see Leonard return to the active lineup before making a super-max offer next year, see him reinvested fully into the program. To think Popovich will walk into a room after months of discontent and immediately drop that $219 million on Leonard goes against every way the Spurs have operated.
This is clearly speculation, but given Wojnarowski’s connections, it very well could be informed speculation.
Would the Spurs really not offer Leonard a super-max extension this offseason and keep him for next season, the final year of his contract? There’s no guarantee Leonard will be eligible for a super-max deal in 2019. He must win MVP or Defensive Player of the Year or make an All-NBA team next season to qualify for a new super-max contract once his current deal expires (as opposed to a super-max extension, which he has already clinched eligibility for).
Leonard, even if he wants to stay in San Antonio at this point, could easily resent the suggestion. It’d be reasonable for the Spurs to want to gauge Leonard’s health before offering him so much money, but from his standpoint, Leonard shouldn’t want to risk it. If San Antonio tries this tactic, it could lead to a trade request or Leonard leaving in 2019 unrestricted free agency.
Perhaps, San Antonio evaluates him through the preseason then gives him a super-max extension. But that’s a narrow needle to thread.
Most people expect the Spurs to either give Leonard the super-max extension or trade him this summer. But we probably shouldn’t rule out a middle ground of them doing neither and keeping into the regular season.