The Spurs have been insistent over the past few weeks that, despite Kawhi Leonard’s trade request, they wanted to still work towards keeping their superstar.
The hope was they could pull off the same thing they did with LaMarcus Aldridge last year, where he went from wanting a trade to inking an extension. However, all signs have pointed to Kawhi being set on leaving San Antonio, with reports recently stating he never wanted to step foot in the locker room again and it appears the Spurs are recognizing that reality.
On Wednesday night, it was reported that the Spurs and Lakers had serious trade talks for the first time, suggesting San Antonio was understanding the situation and the necessity of looking at all options. On Thursday, Marc Stein reported they were now “ready” to move on from Leonard, but that doesn’t necessarily mean L.A. is a frontrunner.
Adrian Wojnarowski followed that up shortly by noting he’d heard similar things, and that the Spurs were now “fully engaged” in trade talks, where they had previously been more passive in listening to offers, and they were eyeing Boston as a partner.
The Celtics have, understandably, been wary of including any of their top assets in a deal for Leonard given the possibility he bolts in 2019. Jayson Tatum is all but off the table no matter what, so it will likely come down to whether they’ll include the 2019 Kings pick or Jaylen Brown in discussions. As of now, that doesn’t seem to be happening and it’s understandable why they wouldn’t want to do that, but the Spurs certainly seem to prefer a deal that would send Kawhi to the East rather than a Western Conference rival.
Woj notes the Spurs could still drag things out, as Stein did too, which means this could last into free agency, but it is an indication that if the right suitor puts together the right package, Leonard could be moved shortly.