It seems like the Kawhi Leonard saga with the San Antonio Spurs is nearly over. After an entire season of waiting to see what the real story was between the two sides, it now seems clear that at some point there will be a break between the team and the star wing.
We just don’t know when that will be.
LeBron James is apparently waiting to see what Leonard does before making his own free agency decision this summer. He has the ability to slow play the league, but so too do the Spurs. San Antonio reportedly does not want to trade Leonard within the Western Conference, and according to a new report from Chris Mannix, the Spurs will not be rushed into making a decision.
Leonard’s trade request is now publicly known, it has sort of hamstrung the Spurs in terms of trade value. Still, that apparently isn’t stopping RC Buford and Gregg Popovich as they trie to handle their team moving forward without Leonard.
Leonard has a desire to play in Los Angeles, and that doesn’t seem to be something the Spurs are willing to budge on. It’s a classic game of chicken, and there is no doubt the Spurs will likely have to settle for a bit less than they value Leonard at. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean San Antonio have to acquiesce to Leonard’s desires.
San Antonio is a pillar franchise in the NBA, and with the ownership and management they have there is no real concern that they will be able to right the ship in the long term post-Kawhi.
Leonard also doesn’t have a no-trade clause, so he has no real say in where he can go. That’s the Spurs’ big chip, and it’s possible that San Antonio can figure out a way to extract some top picks from Eastern Conference teams as part of a two-way or three-way deal. Both sides are still playing their cards close to the chest, but things are coming to a head as we approach free agency.