Here's why the Celtics shouldn't pursue Kawhi Leonard
BOSTON -- With several reports indicating Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio, rumors will swirl about teams approaching San Antonio for a trade. The usual round of suspects -- including the Celtics, who reportedly made an offer for the All-Star forward at last February's trade deadline -- will be in the mix.
But as talented as Leonard has been during his career with the Spurs, is he a player the Celtics should pursue? If all you’re looking at is his talent, then it’s a no-brainer to try and put together another package to try and get him to Boston. But with any trade, there’s a downside to acquiring a player like Leonard.
The benefits to adding Leonard are clear. He's the best two-way player in the NBA. He defends LeBron James one-on-one better than anyone in the league.
But by no means would the addition of Leonard be all peaches and cream.
Here are four reasons why the Celtics should think long and hard before going all-in on Leonard.
Leonard will become a free agent in the summer of 2019, meaning this upcoming season is the only year Boston is assured he will play for them. That creates a scenario in which the Celtics are banking on Leonard having the kind of experience that will make him inclined to sign on long-term. But considering the circumstances surrounding him being available, even if the team is successful that doesn’t necessarily move the needle closer to a long-term deal with Leonard.
RIGHT (OR WRONG) FIT?
As last season wore on and it became clearer that he wasn’t going to play anytime soon, he became extremely detached from his teammates in San Antonio. Whatever was going on with him and management, those issues were what they were. But to basically walk away from his teammates consistently -- not for one game but over an extended period of time -- doesn’t exactly make you all warm and fuzzy about embracing him in a culture in Boston that’s very connected from the top of the front office food chain (Danny Ainge, president of basketball operations) to the player at the end of the bench.
A player as accomplished as Leonard will not come cheap. And the Boston Celtics, maybe more than any other team, has a boatload of assets in the form of players and draft picks that will certainly whet the appetite of the Spurs now that Leonard is available. But for a player that you might only have for one year, how much are the Celtics willing to part with assets-wise? And what are the Spurs willing to accept?
WHY BREAK UP A GOOD THING?
There’s no question the addition of Kawhi Leonard for most teams, would be a step in the right direction. But the Celtics, as we saw this past season, are not your run-of-the-mill team. Much of their success has to do with the player’s synergy with each other, a delicate balance they seemingly mastered last season even with key players like Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward out for the playoffs with injuries. Coming within a win of getting to the NBA Finals earlier this month without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, gives legitimate hope that their return next season will be just what puts the Celtics over the top. But by shaking that up with the addition of Leonard, it would certainly create some uncertainty as to how far the Celtics will go into the postseason.