Yesterday, I broke down a Woj report that San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich would be sitting down in the coming weeks with his estranged superstar Kawhi Leonard with the hopes of working things out and discussing an extension. My oh my how things have changed:
Kawhi Leonard wants out from the San Antonio Spurs, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 15, 2018
As I wrote yesterday:
“What once seemed like an impossibility – parting ways with the 2014 NBA Finals MVP, two-time Defensive Player of the Year, and two-time All-NBA First Team selection – now appears to be a formality, with the Sixers mentioned as a contender to acquire his services.”
ESPN’s Bobby Marks wrote of a hypothetical Sixers trade for Leonard:
“Philadelphia will need to rely on coach Brett Brown and his relationship with Leonard from his days as an assistant in San Antonio. Because Philadelphia is restricted in what it can offer Leonard in an extension before free agency (four years, $107 million; six months after he is acquired), both sides would be relying on a handshake agreement before the trade is completed. Essentially, the Sixers would be risking three assets because they trust Leonard.”
Recent Sixers assistant coaching hire Monty Williams spent the past two years as the vice president of basketball operations in the same front office as R.C. Buford, while Brett Brown served on Gregg Popovich’s staff with Leonard as a player. With Leonard now presumably on the trading block, the Sixers would appear to be a legitimate contender in acquiring his services.
A trade involving Robert Covington and Markelle Fultz, along using the Stretch Provision on Jerryd Bayless, could clear enough cap space for the Sixers to make a run at a max player like LeBron James or Paul George to pair with Kawhi, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid.
One would be reckless to ignore the potential package of draft picks and star players Boston could offer, including Kyrie Irving or – could they be so cold – Gordon Hayward. The Lakers are also believed to be interested in offering a package including young players like Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, or Brandon Ingram. In the latter scenario, they could clear enough cap space to make a super team of Kawhi, PG13, and LeBron. There’s also this:
San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard has Los Angeles — preferably the Lakers — at the center of his preferences for a trade destination, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 15, 2018
And this, from the night before, is as close as you can get to tampering without burning your hand.
Do not ever underestimate
Nothing else to say
— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) June 14, 2018
The NBA off-season is heating up and the draft is only a week away. I’m not a betting man, but I’d feel pretty comfortable wagering that the Sixers will be in the running. Speaking of gambling, Kyle and I talked about updates in sports gambling on Friday’s Crossing Broadcast: