Reported 'determining factor' in Celtics passing on Kawhi Leonard isn't surprising

Darren Hartwell
NBC Sports Boston

Reported 'determining factor' in Celtics passing on Kawhi Leonard isn't surprising originally appeared on nbcsportsboston.com

Kawhi Leonard had a few fanbases -- the Boston Celtics' included -- wondering "what if?" after the 2019 NBA Finals.

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The Celtics reportedly were one of several teams considering trading with the San Antonio Spurs for Leonard last offseason before the Toronto Raptors landed him ... and promptly won an NBA title.

Boston had plenty of assets to offer San Antonio for Leonard in the summer of 2018. So, why did Danny Ainge and Co. back down?

ESPN.com's Kevin Arnovitz shared this tidbit Monday morning:

The informed belief that Leonard had every intention of signing in Los Angeles in 2019 was the determining factor for both the 76ers and Boston Celtics in not accepting more robust proposals by the San Antonio Spurs for Leonard last summer, according to sources with each team who were close to those negotiations.

NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg recently reported that Boston's trade proposals for Leonard "centered heavy on draft assets" and didn't include young players like Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown. According to Arnovitz, the C's weren't willing to give up that much for a player who many believe will sign with the Clippers or Lakers this summer.

Those beliefs aren't unfounded, as Leonard just declined his player option to become an unrestricted free agent and may ditch Toronto even after winning a championship in his lone season. Still, Raptors fans will probably tell you dealing fan favorite DeMar DeRozan for Leonard was worth it in the form of the franchise's first NBA title.

Leonard also came with injury concerns in 2018, but his situation wasn't unlike that of Anthony Davis, whose agent, Rich Paul, warned teams like the Celtics they'd only be getting him on a one-year rental if they traded for him.

The C's apparently heeded this warning like they did with Leonard, declining to move their prized assets for short-term rentals of two superstars. We'll find out over the next few seasons if they made the right call.

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