Tim Duncan famously signed for less than he could command on the open market a few years back in an attempt to free up more room for the Spurs to get him some help. Conversely, 2014 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who will be a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign an extension by Friday, is looking for a max extension. According to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, no agreement has been reached and the sides haven’t made any progress during talks in recent weeks.
Leonard, just 23 — the second youngest, behind Magic Johnson, to win the Finals MVP award — is eligible for an extension by midnight on October 31, the deadline for members of the 2011 draft class. After being selected with the No. 15 overall pick in 2011 by the Pacers, he was dealt to the Spurs for PG George Hill.
According to Woj, Spurs president and GM R.C. Buford — the winner of Executive of the Year last season — has had several discussions with Leonard’s agent, Brian Elfus, but no progress has been made.
Leonard will likely receive a max offer sheet should he become a restricted free agent next summer, but the Spurs will have the fight to match any offer. Then again, the Rockets let Chandler Parsons walk after the Mavs signed him to a three-year, $46 million deal with a player option on the second year. If another team does the same to Leonard, he could walk in the summer of 2017 when he’d be assured another opportunity to assess his worth on the open market in two years’ time.
If San Antonio wanted to give Kawhi the max he seeks as an extension, they could sign him to a five-year, $90 million-plus extension before the Oct. 31 deadline. That’s if the Spurs are willing to make him their designated player, which is the only way to offer that fifth year. San Antonio could also sign Leonard to a fifth year in restricted free agency next summer, the only team — with his Bird rights — who can do so.
Leonard will probably miss San Antonio’s opening games against Dallas on Tuesday with an eye infection that’s kept him out of all but one preseason contest.
For the 2013-14 NBA season, Leonard averaged career highs in pints (12.8), rebounds (6.2), assists (2.0) and steals (1.7) per game. He also shot a career high 60.2 true shooting percentage and 57.6 effective field goal percentage. He had the highest player efficiency rating (PER) of his career, too, at 19.4.
Should the Spurs sign him to a max extension?
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