Kawhi Leonard’s is reportedly determined to leave the San Antonio Spurs, as he feels his relationship with the team has been damaged beyond repair.
Things between the 2014 NBA Finals MVP and the Spurs have been frosty since he reportedly told the team he was not comfortable playing while rehabbing from the quadriceps tendinopathy that forced him to miss the first 27 games of the season.
Leonard made his season debut on December 12 against the Dallas Mavericks, but after playing nine of the following 17 games, on January 13 the Spurs opted to sideline him indefinitely—and he did not play another game during the season.
While a meeting between Leonard and the Spurs could help solve their differences, one Western Conference executive believes the All Star forward has already made his mind up.
"I don't think it can," the unnamed executive was quoted as saying by Bleacher Report when asked if the relationship between Leonard and the Spurs could be salvaged. "At the end of the day, Kawhi wants out."
San Antonio turned down inquiries before the trade deadline in February and has already hinted it will not trade the forward this summer.
However, that has not stopped other NBA franchises from working on plans to lure Leonard away from Texas, and last month a number of teams were rumored to be already working on a trade package.
This impasse over the 26-year-old’s future only increased amid reports that this summer San Antonio might not offer the five-year extension worth $219 million he wants.
"I'm surprised beyond belief that this thing got to the point that it did,” a league source close to the Spurs was quoted as saying.
In recent years, Jimmy Butler and DeMarcus Cousins left the Chicago Bulls and the Sacramento Kings after not being offered a supermax contract, while James Harden and John Wall put pen to paper to remain in Houston and Washington respectively.
Conversely, the Spurs would have to trade Leonard immediately even if they didn’t offer him the supermax contract or if he declined to sign it, as he is under contract until the end of next season.
However, should either of the two scenarios materialize, San Antonio will in all likelihood entertain trade talks for the 26-year-old.
Leonard averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game last season and his injury is unlikely to deter any potential suitors.
Some have suggested his situation could be a repeat of the scenario Spurs faced last summer with LaMarcus Aldridge. The power forward had demanded a trade away from Texas, but Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made it clear Aldridge would only be allowed to leave if San Antonio received a star player in exchange.
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