The San Antonio Spurs are no longer involved in the 2018 NBA Playoffs and, while much of the attention surrounding the franchise was already focused on the Kawhi Leonard saga, the scrutiny and interest will only heighten in the coming weeks. Teams like the Clippers and Lakers have already been linked to potential trade pursuits this summer but the overarching question centers on what the Spurs plan to do through the prism of potentially offering Leonard the designated player extension that would guarantee him more than $200 million.
With that as the backdrop, Michael C. Wright of ESPN brings word that the Spurs are prioritizing and planning for an “all-hands-on-deck summer meeting” with Leonard and head coach Gregg Popovich is “expected to take the lead” when that is organized. It comes as no surprise that the organization would like to take the temperature of the relationship with Leonard before evaluating all available options, include trade winds.
Still, there is even another factor in the mix, as Wright reports that the decision to even offer Leonard the massive contract extension could be a “difficult sell” to ownership.
While the decision regarding whether to offer Leonard a $219 million supermax extension rests with management — and even the current players, according to a source — ownership ultimately makes the final call. Convincing the team’s former chairman and CEO, Peter Holt, and his wife, Spurs chairman and co-chief executive officer Julianna Hawn Holt, could prove to be a difficult sell for general manager R.C. Buford. The couple is in the midst of a divorce.
If Leonard is healthy (after appearing in only nine games this season) and invested in the organization, there is little doubt that a $219 million contract would be both appropriate and worthwhile. Just one season ago, Leonard put together an MVP-worthy campaign, combining his already terrifying defensive skill set with a burgeoning offensive game that zoomed him toward the uber-elite tier.
The former San Diego State star turns 27 this summer and, while the end of the contract could be rough if he ages poorly, Leonard is a top-10 player in the NBA by any measure and the pillar of the Spurs roster at this stage.
Of course, the questions go well beyond his ability, as health is no longer a given and the relationship, depending on what an outside chooses to believe, could be described in many different ways. More information will emerge in the next several weeks but what we now know is that the Spurs reportedly want to address it head-on with a meeting headlined by their fearless leader in Popovich.