Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio, leaning towards LA

By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Kawhi Leonard has been connected to teams via trade for the last handful of months, but all this speculation never involved Leonard himself and his stance on still playing for the San Antonio Spurs.

Early Friday, first reported by Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports, Leonard flipped the NBA world upside down, declaring his desire to be traded from the Spurs to another team, citing in a report by ESPN's Chris Haynes that he "has grown frustrated with how the organization handled his quad injury and feels the franchise turned on him once he sought a second opinion."

What was thought to be the case behind closed doors for Leonard has just become a reality. Now, the Spurs have the tough job to find the right trading partner and make it happen. Kawhi Leonard is in the final year of his current contract with the Spurs, and trading assets is a pretty big risk for most teams especially if he doesn't commit to re-signing in 2019.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Leonard has the Lakers at the top of his list as a possible destination. The Lakers, like the Sixers, have the young pieces to make a trade that is palatable to the Spurs needs. They also have the cap space to sign two players to max contracts this summer in addition to trading for Leonard, which would pretty much solidify the Lakers as a super team good enough to compete with the Warriors and Rockets next season.

But there are also additional teams that could make a serious push for Kawhi, including the Boston Celtics, who according to Wojnarowski, have perhaps the best set of young tradeable assets including a plethora of future draft picks to offer. The Celtics also made an unsuccessful offer for Leonard back in February before the trade deadline, but they believe they can make a better offer now.

According to Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer (and common sense), the Sixers are one of the four main teams to pursue Kawhi in a trade within the next several weeks. O'Connor states what I mentioned above, "Teams with top picks could always jump into the sweepstakes, but the risk would be significant considering Leonard has just one more season left on his contract."

The good news for the Sixers, especially if they want to add Kawhi Leonard to their team, is that they have the oh-so-important Brett Brown and Spurs connection that could assist them in landing the superstar small forward. They also have draft picks to give up, young assets like Markelle Fultz and players like Robert Covington and Dario Saric that could be valuable in enticing San Antonio.

One thing is for sure, this is going to be one crazy summer even if the Sixers don't actually land Kawhi Leonard. It might just set up a situation where it could be easier for the Sixers to sign LeBron James, who might be the jackpot of free agency anyway.

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