Report: Kawhi Leonard wants to leave Spurs, ideally for Lakers

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The Spurs’ fears have been realized.

Kawhi Leonard wants out.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Leonard and the Spurs just never got on the same page about his quad injury. It’s easy to see how a simple, though important, disagreement spiraled into something larger that alienated Leonard.

San Antonio’s market size probably didn’t help the situation, either. I also wouldn’t have been impressed with the Spurs’ team-building if I were Leonard.

When healthy, Leonard is a 26-year-old superstar – the type of player who draws monster trade packages. But his injury risk is quite concerning and will loom large in negotiations.

The Lakers have plenty of valuable young players – Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram – to offer. Acquiring Leonard would also improve their free-agent pitches to LeBron James and/or Paul George.

The Spurs aren’t obligated to trade Leonard, but they probably should. He can leave in 2019 unrestricted free agency, and he’s clearly serious about exiting. By leaving San Antonio, he’d forfeit a chance at a super-max contract, which projected to be worth about $219 million over five years. Instead, the max he could get while re-signing with a different team in 2019 projects to be about $188 million over five years.

With only one year left on his contract, Leonard will have a say in where he goes. Teams he pledges to re-sign with will offer more in a trade. That won’t necessarily stop other teams from offering San Antonio more, but it makes it harder for those other teams to justify better offers.

So, it matters Leonard prefers the Lakers and then Clippers. The next step is determining what other teams he’d embrace – and what they’ll offer.