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Rumor: Here’s what it’ll take to pry Kawhi Leonard away from the Spurs

Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, right, prepares to drive around San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)


Is Kawhi Leonard on the trade block, or isn’t he?

That’s the question much of the NBA is asking as we plow through the conference finals and into June. We don’t have an answer yet, and the back-and-forth between Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs has been one of the oddest sagas I can remember between a star player and his team in some time -- especially considering the perceived equanimity of both sides.

There’s been rumors that teams like the Philadelphia 76ers are quietly targeting Leonard should he become available and the relationship become unrepairable with the Spurs.

No doubt other teams have started to gather trade offers for Leonard, who has a player option after the 2018-19 NBA season. Any trade package for Leonard would realistically have to be significant, and the apparent bad blood between the Spurs and Leonard won’t decrease the Spurs’ potential asking price.

According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, San Antonio, “Won’t settle for anything less than a grand-slam offer.”

That sort of makes you wonder whether a team like the Sixers, who have a core of young talent they’re trying to add to, should be considering giving up big pieces. Signing Leonard outright if he opts out next summer is one thing, but leveraging the chemistry you’ve built is another.

This perhaps makes other teams bigger players for Leonard, ones who might be more willing to sell the farm for a shot at the Spurs star.

O’Connor’s information from several sources isn’t anything we didn’t expect, and we have to take it at what it’s worth. Remember, if someone in the NBA is talking anonymously it’s usually for one of three reasons: to tell their story when they don’t feel heard, to influence the market or public perception, or as quid pro quo.

Is this San Antonio driving up the asking price on Leonard, is it the Spurs responding truthfully to what they need in exchange for their top star, or is it a little of both?

We’ll have to wait until this summer to find out.