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Report: NBA teams plotting Kawhi Leonard trade inquiries

Kawhi Leonard

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard warms up before Game 1 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, May 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)


The Spurs reportedly quickly shot down any attempts to trade for Kawhi Leonard before February’s trade deadline.

But, with San Antonio and Leonard still at an impasse, other teams will try again this summer.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

I have already talked to several general managers. At the end of this season, teams will call the Spurs and inquire about the availability of Kawhi Leonard.

This is just due diligence by other teams. When healthy, Leonard – just 26 – is one of the NBA’s best player. He’s a terrorizing defender, and he has become an elite one-on-one scorer. Every team should want him.

Including San Antonio.

As bad as this situation looks now, the Spurs have a habit of working these things out. It’s far from a given, but Gregg Popovich knows how to communicate with players.

Leonard will be eligible this offseason for a super-max contract extension, which projects to be worth about $219 million over five years. If he waits until 2019 free agency, the most he could get from another team projects to be about $139 million over four years.

The Spurs might not offer the extension. Leonard could still get the super max in free agency if he makes an All-NBA team or wins Defensive Player of the Year or MVP next season. Even without Leonard winning one of those honors, San Antonio will hold a financial advantage, being able to offer him a projected $188 million over five years.

But if the Spurs offer the extension this summer and Leonard rejects it, that’d speak volumes to his intent. At that point, trade talk will shift into overdrive.

For now, these other teams seem like dreamers. Nothing wrong with that, but it means only so much.