Why it’s time for the Spurs to let Kawhi Leonard go

From David Robinson to Tim Duncan, the Spurs have found ways to keep their stars in San Antonio, but in life and sports, you have outliers, and it seems Kawhi Leonard is that outlier.

Under Gregg Popovich, the Spurs won five NBA titles. Pop, along with Duncan and Robinson, helped make San Antonio a winning organization. It helped that superstars like Duncan and Robinson bought into the “Spurs Way.” Unfortunately for the Spurs, Leonard is not Robinson or Duncan

Leonard reportedly wants out of San Antonio and would like to be in Los Angeles. According to reports, the Lakers and Spurs are in talks about a possible trade involving Leonard.  As we all know, Leonard is said to be unhappy with the way San Antonio handled his quad injury, which caused him to miss 72 games last season.

In addition to the Lakers, Philly, Boston, Cleveland, and Clippers have reportedly made offers to the Spurs for Leonard. While the Lakers are reportedly in a rush to get Leonard in the fold,  to make Los Angeles appealing to LeBron James, the Spurs do not have to move fast. They can wait this thing out.

Recently, Popovich met with Leonard in San Diego to try to work things out with the two-time All-Star, and last week, Spurs GM R.C. Buford had this to say about Leonard:

“While none of us would wish we are where we are, we’re going to do what we can to build the best relationship we can with him, and we’ll explore all of our options. But the first one would be to do what we can to keep Kawhi as a part of our group,” Buford said.

The Spurs can offer Leonard a five-year $219 million contract, so there is always the possibility that they can work out, but it seems clear that he wants out. At this point, there is no need to hold onto him. Pop and Buford need to try to find the best possible package for Leonard.

In reality, the Spurs are in transition. You wonder how long Popovich is going to stick around, especially after the death of his longtime wife, Erin. Also, some believe Pop could retire as early as the end of next season.

The Bulls of the 90s were able to win six titles, but after Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, and Scottie Pippen left, the team struggled for many years. With Leonard in the fold, and the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge, you thought the transition from Tim Duncan would be seamless, and the transition was relatively smooth, until now.

If the Spurs can get a nice haul in any Leonard trade, this team can still be competitive, but in terms of winning titles again, that might take some time.

While it might be painful, it’s time for the Spurs to move on from Kawhi Leonard.

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Johnson: ‘If anybody insinuates that the Spurs didn’t do a great job at trying to take care of the health of Kawhi, is foolishness to me’

Last week, former Spur Bruce Bowen came out in support of the Spurs organization. Today, another former Spurs legend followed suit.

Avery Johnson, who played ten seasons in San Antonio, is having a hard time believing that the Spurs would do anything to jeopardize the health of any player, including Kawhi Leonard.

“Obviously, Gregg Popovich is my mentor. I have a long tradition with the Spurs. I had a great run with them; I had a great run with the Mavs; helping them to the Finals in 2006. All of those things are great. But the truth of the matter is, if anybody insinuates that the Spurs didn’t do a great job at trying to take care of the health of Kawhi Leonard, is foolishness to me,” Johnson said on ESPN’s First Take today.  “I’ve watched them take care of David Robinson; Tim Duncan has had health issues, injury situations. I’ve had some different injury situations, and we’ve always had the best care, from the best doctors. Wherever they are, we’ll find them. The Spurs are a high-level organization. Just to insinuate that the Spurs are not doing what’s in the best interest of Kawhi Leonard from a health standpoint, I just think that is ridiculous.”

Leonard,  26, who played in only nine games this season due to a quad injury, is reportedly unhappy with the way the Spurs have handled his injury. The two-time All-Star reportedly wants out of San Antonio, and would like to play in Los Angeles.

However, the Spurs are reportedly only looking to trade Leonard to an Eastern Conference team. Also, Spurs GM R. C. Buford would like to keep Leonard in San Antonio, so how this plays out should be very interesting.

 

HOF Isiah Thomas on Kawhi with Spurs: ‘I think we hope it all works itself out'(AUDIO)

The San Antonio Spurs are in a difficult position. According to reports, their best player Kawhi Leonard wants out. While the Spurs were able to make it to the playoffs last season without Leonard, who played in only nine games due to a quad injury, they were easily beaten in five games by the Warriors in the first round. Therefore, Leonard is an essential piece for this team moving forward.

The Spurs have a huge decision to make. Do they appease Leonard and make a trade or do they try to work it out?

Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas would like to see Leonard stay in San Antonio, but with the report that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich could retire as early as after next season, this could complicate things, according to Thomas:

“I think we hope it all works itself out, but you know another thing that has popped up in that situation now, (if you’re)Kawhi, you say, ‘Okay, I come back,’ and then if he comes back, is Popovich going to be his coach? Is Popovich going to stay through the end of his contract,” Thomas recently told the Go4it podcast.

‘I think those two they have a lot to really discuss and talk about because there are so many ‘ifs’ in their conversation. If Pop stays, If Kawhi comes back, how’s he going to feel, team building, everything else; the San Antonio way.”

The Spurs have been the “Gold Standard” in the NBA, so to hear any player question that organization, the way Leonard has reportedly done, is surprising. According to Thomas, what makes the Spurs organization the “Gold Standard” is Popovich, but that could all change if Pop retires:

“I think we all understand while we give San Antonio gold stars for being the model organization,” Thomas said. “It’s really Popovich who’s the organization with the gold stars, so if he leaves, we don’t know what type of organization the San Antonio Spurs will be.”

After the recent death of his wife, Erin, you wonder how long Pop will coach.

Pop and Spurs have a significant amount of work to do in trying to fix things with Leonard, but if the end is near for Pop, it could be challenging to keep Leonard around.

Thomas talks Kawhi Leonard at the 37:41 mark:

 

Editor’s note:  The original story had the Spurs losing in 4 to the Warriors. The story was corrected to indicate that the Spurs lost in 5 to the Warriors.

An emotional LeBron James reacts to the death of Erin Popovich(WATCH)

It was an emotional night in the NBA after the announcement of the death of Erin Popovich today; the wife of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

Many around the NBA reacted to the news of her death, including Kevin Durant, and Cavaliers star LeBron James.

After helping the Cavs beat the Pacers 100-97 in Game 2 of that series, James reacted to the death of Erin Popovich:

Based on  LeBron and Durant’s reaction, players around the league love Popovich.

 

Kevin Durant reacts to the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife(WATCH)

Erin Popovich, who was the wife of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, died on Wednesday, according to a statement from the Spurs.  She was 67.

According to ESPN, Gregg and Erin were married for four decades and had two children and two grandchildren.

Warriors star Kevin Durant reacted to the death of Erin Popovich:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gregg Popovich and his family.

Zaza Pachulia responds to Gregg Popovich

Who do you believe? Do you believe Gregg Popovich or Zaza Pachulia. Pop says Pachulia is dirty, but Pachulia says he is not. Pop talked earlier today, and now Pachulia responds. “I’m not a dirty player. I love this game and I’m playing hard. That’s what I was taught since day one.”

Take a listen:

Gregg Popovich on Zaza Pachulia: ‘This particular individual has history with that kind of action’

Gregg Popovich was not very happy with Zaza Pachulia today. Pop believes what Pachulia did to Kawhi Leonard yesterday was dirty. Also, Pop said that Leonard is likely out for game 2 against the Warriors with an ankle injury.

Take a listen:

Pachulia’s gives his take from yesterday:

Durant defends Zaza on Sunday:

Leonard had this to say on Sunday:

Mike Brown defends Zaza today:

LeBron on rest: ‘Pop been doing this for 10 years’

All this “rest talk” is making me tired. Anyway, LeBron James talked about rest today. LeBron told cleveland.com that Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich has been doing this for years:

“Listen, man. Pop has been doing this 10 years, 12 years, 15 years and everyone’s like. You know what? That’s the smartest thing Pop has ever done. Give his guys a couple games off and here they go, five championships.”

I guess LeBron has a point, but when you have two straight weeks of garbage, prime time basketball, it becomes an issue. LeBron, who averages 37 minutes a game, deserves a rest. However, the fans pay to see LeBron play.  

The league knows it has a problem, and I think they will fix it!

Here more of LeBron below: