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.