SOURCE– There’s a race to secure Leonard before James is faced with deciding whether to become a free agent on Friday, especially with concern that Oklahoma City’s Paul George is no longer assured of signing with the Lakers, league sources said.
Another preference by James that could impact free agency, league sources said, is that he wants to make a decision quickly in July free agency.
The Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers and LA Clippers are among teams who have made offers to the Spurs for Leonard, league sources said. The Lakers, the franchise Leonard wants to be traded to, did not have an encouraging initial conversation with the Spurs, ESPN reported recently.
Let’s start here because the recent wave of news about Kawhi Leonard being linked to the Celtics started yesterday. While a couple weeks ago we found out that the Celtics put in a trade offer for Kawhi at the trade deadline, I think it is fair to assume that lumping the Celtics with the Cavs, 76ers, and Clippers in this article means that there has been a new offer this offseason by the Celtics to the San Antonio Spurs.
There were many reports after Woj’s article that said that teams were low balling the Spurs for Kawhi, including the Celtics. This led to speculation of trades centered around Terry Rozier and the 2019 Kings pick for the former Finals MVP. Obviously, that is not enough for Kawhi Leonard. I mean we are talking about one of the best players in the league here. But with the reports being that Kawhi is going to sign with one of the Los Angeles teams when he hits free agency next summer regardless, it makes no sense for a team other than the Lakers and the Clippers to pay fair market value. Even the LA teams in that sense don’t need to pay market value because no one else will be. Which has landed the Spurs in a bad situation of not having leverage.
UNTIL yesterday when it was getting spread around that LeBron doesn’t want to be the first one to sign with the Lakers. And with Paul George leaning towards resigning with OKC, the Lakers are now frantically trying to trade for Kawhi to be able to land LeBron. Which is why the Lakers aggressively re-engaged with the Spurs.
Without Paul George guaranteed to sign with the Lakers, and with LeBron needing someone else to be in place first to move to LA, the Lakers only chance to win the LeBron sweepstakes is to trade for Kawhi before free agency kicks off on July 1st. Which then, gives the Spurs the leverage they were missing.
Now you may be asking yourself, what the fuck does this have to do with the Celtics? Buddy,, do I have some news for you.
Danny Ainge is no fool. Of course the Celtics are being extremely cautious. Not only did Kawhi miss the whole year with an injury, but he also apparently does not want to go to Boston.
So, if you are the Celtics and Kawhi has no interest in resigning with you, that means assets like Jaylen Brown are off the table completely, which is exactly what has happened.
So, if the Celtics have no interest in trading away the assets that the Spurs most covet, then why does Woj keep linking the Celtics and the Lakers as the teams in on Kawhi? Because the Spurs want him too, that’s why.
Yes, Woj is linking the Celtics to Kawhi because it gives the Spurs even more leverage against the Lakers. The Lakers not only now have to fight against the clock to land Kawhi before free agency, but they now have to outbid their longtime rival, the Celtics, who apparently have assets that the Spurs like more. The Spurs want Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. Obviously, that is not enough money to make the deal work, but I am sure that the Spurs want a deal centered around those two Lakers forwards.
So do I think the Celtics are really in on Kawhi Leonard? No. They are not going to trade for him because they are not going to give up real assets on a guy who is not going to stay after this year. Danny might want to win a championship, but he isn’t about to blow up the Celtics future for one year of Kawhi. Until I hear anything else, I am convinced that Boston is out on Kawhi Leonard.