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Report: Spurs ‘ready’ to trade Kawhi Leonard

Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs - Game Two

SAN ANTONIO,TX - APRIL 17 : Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts after a basket against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 17, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

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Kawhi Leonard has made clear for weeks he wants to leave San Antonio.

The Spurs have talked about their desire to keep him. They met with him in an apparent attempt to repair the relationship. They’ve heard out trade offers, but seemingly barely engaged other teams.

That appears to be changing.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

The Spurs will still operate on their own timeline, but – now that the draft has passed – this appears to be the optimal time to trade Leonard.

Getting Leonard could position the Lakers to land LeBron James and maybe even Paul George, too. Accordingly, Los Angeles should offer more for Leonard than it would otherwise. And if the Lakers offer more, that will force other teams – like the Celtics – to offer more themselves.

But if LeBron signs elsewhere while San Antonio holds Leonard, the Lakers lose that urgency. They’d obviously still want Leonard, but LeBron considerations would no longer factor. If they lower their offer, Boston and other teams could too. Los Angeles might even just wait until next year to try to sign Leonard in free agency.

There’s no good way to trade an in-his-prime superstar, but San Antonio’s window for optimizing its return is open right now. Finally, the Spurs appear to realize that.