A week ago, Kawhi Leonard’s representatives told different media outlets that he wanted to be traded from the San Antonio Spurs.
According to other media outlets, the Spurs were not told directly that Leonard wanted to be traded.
Over the course of the week, there were nine teams with some sort of rumor linked to having interest in Leonard.
Thursday, the 2018 NBA Draft came and went, and for Leonard and the Spurs, Leonard is still part of the organization.
On the day of the draft, there were reports that the Los Angeles Lakers had called San Antonio inquiring about the idea of trading Leonard to Los Angeles, where Leonard reportedly wants to end up, but the Spurs did not engage in the conversation (reportedly).
When the 12th and 13th picks were about to be selected by the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the Clippers tried to engage the Spurs in a trade package for Leonard, but, no deal ever came to be.
After the Spurs selected Lonnie Walker IV with the 18th pick and Chimezie Metu with the 49th pick in the draft, General Manager R.C. Buford addressed the media, and gave an update of where the Spurs stand with Leonard.
“Kawhi and his family mean a lot to our organization and the community, and while none of us would wish we are where we are, we’re going to do what we can to build the best relationship we can with him, and we’ll explore all of our options, but the first one would be to do what we can to keep Kawhi as a part of our group,” said Buford.
As for all those reports and rumors about trade proposals, Buford said the Spurs wouldn’t discuss that type of information in the public.
Now that the draft is over, the shift for the Spurs will be free agency, which officially begins July 1, although, free agents can’t sign deals until July 6.
When asked if the Spurs are under any kind of timeline to find a resolution with Leonard, Buford said the main timeline is the length of Leonard’s current contract.
“I don’t know that time is a factor on this, from today through, he’s under contract for another year. Our goal is to keep him as a part of our program for a long time.”
According to multiple reports, one of the key reasons for Leonard’s frustration with the organization was how his injury was handled. When asked if he wished the team might have handled issues differently, Buford said, “I think that all of us wished things would have gone differently.”
As Buford mentioned, on paper, Leonard is still under contract for the upcoming 2018-19 season. However, he can decide to become a free agent in the summer of 2019.
This puts the Spurs in a peculiar situation. There’s the matter of the supermax extension Leonard qualified for. Leonard will be eligible to sign the supermax from July 16 through October 16 IF it were presented to him.
The next timing issue is free agency. It might be difficult for the Spurs to start building their roster for next season in free agency without knowing which direction the franchise is headed toward with their best player.
As of Thursday evening, the Spurs seem intent on trying to keep Leonard in their future for as long as possible. Eventually though, if they can’t come to some sort of resolution, the club may need to look at going in another direction.