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Report: NBA could end one-and-done rule as soon 2021, but no earlier

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The NBA is moving toward ending the one-and-done rule that prohibits players from declaring for the draft straight from high school.

When will it actually happen?

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

The NBA on Friday sent teams a memo indicating that “eligibility rules” for the draft may shift as early as 2021 (but no earlier) as the league reviews issues “related to player development and the corruption investigation in college basketball,” according to a copy of the memo obtained by ESPN.

The memo does not mention the one-and-done rule by name, but it is meant to remind teams the league and the players union could agree to scrap one-and-done before the expiration of the current collective bargaining deal in 2024 — and perhaps well before then, sources say.

This will be a good change, whenever it’s made. It’s unfair to effectively force young players into the NCAA’s cartel system. They should have the freedom to pursue an NBA career after high school.

Teams must now plan for a stacked draft – in 2021 or whatever year the rule changes. That draft will include the top high schoolers from that year’s graduating class and the one prior. So, roster moves this summer should already consider the increased value of future draft picks at that point.

Though teams must still guess at the precise year of the reformatted draft, this is at least a major clue.

Report: Kawhi Leonard leaked desire to leave Spurs to media before informing team

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Enough stars – Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Paul George, Gordon Hayward – have changed teams in the last couple years to know how this goes. People say they don’t care so much whether a player leaves. They claim to care more how a player leaves. (Even though nobody ever finds a player’s exit tact good enough.)

How is Kawhi Leonardwho reportedly wants to leave the Spurs – doing on that front?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

There are two possibilities here:

1. Leonard leaked his desire to leave the Spurs before informing them and is throwing around words like “betrayal” to make them look bad.

2. Leonard already told the organization, and San Antonio is denying it to make him look bad.

Either would show the high level of acrimony here.

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.

Can Kawhi Leonard even convince Spurs to give him super-max extension?

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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?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

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.

Report: Cavaliers actually nearly traded Kyrie Irving around draft

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Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers after he heard they discussed trading him on draft night.

Was that just a benign internal conversation Irving read too much into or a real sign Cleveland wasn’t committed to him?

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

The Cavs indeed came close to trading Irving around the draft, but he didn’t have to hear about it when and how he did.

I wonder what that trade would have been. The Cavaliers also nearly traded Kevin Love for Paul George on draft night. Was it one trade or the other? Did Cleveland actually want to trade both LeBron James‘ co-stars?

This will be another “what if?” of many in the Irving trade saga.

Remember, though, Irving reportedly considered requesting a trade in 2016 and asked for one before the draft. He might have disliked how the Cavs dangled/discussed him on draft night, but it seems if that weren’t a reason for wanting out, he would’ve found another.