Spurs’ forward Kawhi Leonard has been on the trade block all summer because he refuses to play and/or is injured… no one really knows. After his quad injury last year that was supposed to only hold him out of the preseason, Kawhi completely removed himself from the team, due to his perceived mishandling of the injury. Leonard has allowed his group of “advisors” to shield him from the Spurs’ training staff, going as far as hiding him away when they attempted to visit him in New York City this summer.
Kawhi and his camp have made it clear that they want to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. However, trade talks seem to have stalled for the moment between the Spurs and the Lakers. This is largely due to the fact that the Lakers can simply wait another year and sign Leonard in free agency. The Spurs have extra incentive to trade him because Kawhi has threatened to sit out the upcoming season if he isn’t moved to another team. Other teams are wary to give up too much because the likelihood of Leonard being a one year rental is very high.
Enter the Sixers. It has been rumored that the 76ers have an advantage in trading for Kawhi because Philly’s head coach, Brett Brown, was an assistant with the Spurs during Leonard’s time in San Antonio. I’m not sure why this would matter, considering Gregg Popovich and the rest of San Antonio’s staff is being completely shunned by Kawhi and his camp. Brett Brown’s presence does not guarantee that he would re-sign with the Sixers after this year.
Having Leonard on this year’s Sixers team would greatly increase their chances of winning a title, but at what cost? It wouldn’t make them better than the Warriors. Hell, it might not even make them better than the Celtics.
If the Sixers were to trade away key role players and future assets like Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and future first round picks, they would need some sort of guarantee that Kawhi would re-sign with Philly. You can’t risk those assets just to have Kawhi pack his bags for LA and be left empty-handed after a trial period.
I have serious reservations about a guy who is willing to sit out an entire season just to spite a team who hurt his feelings by wanting him back on the court. I can’t speak to whether or not he was really hurt all this time, but it seems to me that he’s acting on bad advice. Even if the Sixers were to get Kawhi, this isn’t their year. I’m sorry, it just isn’t. I hope the best for Kawhi, but I just can’t justify the risk to get a one-year rental in a league where the Golden State Monstars continue to thrive.