Do you hear that sound in the distance? It’s not the concussive explosion of LeBron’s “Decision 3.0,” but if you listen closely enough, you can hear the foundation of the Spurs’ Way continuing to crack. We’ve heard all season about Kawhi Leonard’s distrust with San Antonio’s medical staff. His injury, and the subsequent back-and-forth between Leonard, his teammates, and the organization made the Markelle Fultz situation, at times, look kind of normal. Over the last few months, I’ve written about the possibility that the Sixers would look to acquire Kawhi this offseason via trade.
The prevailing wisdom on Sixers Twitter has been, “Well, how can you possibly make a trade for Kawhi (trading a combo of #10, #26, Fultz/Dario/Covington) without a GM?” It’s as if no one realizes that Monty Williams, who once led the New Orleans Pelicans to the playoffs twice in five seasons, just left a position in the Spurs’ front office. While Williams will be serving as an assistant coach on Brett Brown’s staff, the job that he did the past two years as the vice president of basketball operations was in the same front office as R.C. Buford. If team is better equipped to make a move for Kawhi Leonard, who better than the Sixers? Brett Brown served on Gregg Popovich’s staff with Leonard as a player, which gives insight to Kawhi the player, while William’s experience in a front office role provides insider information on Kawhi the man.
Now, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Spurs’ coach Greg Popovich is going to meet with Kawhi at some point this summer:
“Sooner than later, there will be a meeting set with Gregg Popovich and Leonard. It’s still in the planning stages. They have been in contact, but there will be a conversation — or, perhaps, a series of them — about whether a lasting trust and partnership can be rebuilt.”
Popovich is a year removed from having had a similar meeting with star LaMarcus Aldridge, who had requested a trade after a tumultuous season in San Antonio. Roughly two months after the death of his wife, Woj reported that Popovich’s long-term plans might not include coaching the Spurs:
“Few in his orbit expect Popovich to coach the Spurs beyond the 2020 Summer Olympics, and there always has been the possibility that he could spend the 2019-20 season traveling around the NBA and across the globe, preparing for his national team duties. Perhaps Popovich can have Leonard on Team USA in 2020, too, but that’s a conversation for a different day.”
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. Don’t even get me started on my favorite hypothetical:
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) April 17, 2018