An unlikely source keeps dropping Kawhi Leonard news

Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/sas" data-ylk="slk:San Antonio Spurs">San Antonio Spurs</a> forward <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4896/" data-ylk="slk:Kawhi Leonard">Kawhi Leonard</a> holds the basketball world in his massive hands this summer. (Getty Images)
San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard holds the basketball world in his massive hands this summer. (Getty Images)

I don’t normally rely on Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter or “First Things First” for my NBA news, but in this instance, the Fox Sports host does seem to have some access to San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard or the people close to him that even the league’s biggest news-breakers might not.

On Friday’s show, during a discussion about a sports betting website making the Toronto Raptors heavy favorites in this summer’s sweepstakes to land Leonard’s services, Carter dropped this nugget:

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“Nothing’s changed from Kawhi’s side from these standpoints: He still wants to go to Los Angeles, and he’s still not interested in being rented out for one season, so that being Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto or any other team. The thing that we should know is San Antonio has been in contact with Kawhi and his people, and they’ve told them that if something was to get real, real close, we’ll reach out to you. Well, it’s in their best interest and smart to reach out to him, and typically the other team that’s involved in the trade would be granted permission to reach out to the player that’s being traded. None of those things happened yesterday.”

Cris Carter knows a lot about Kawhi Leonard

Carter knew Leonard was in Las Vegas on Thursday night and was no longer there on Friday morning. He also knew Leonard’s camp considered issuing a press release to refute reports about the Raptors. This after Carter knew intimate details of Leonard’s conversation with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich:

“Kawhi, in meeting with Pop, Pop gave him every indication that he was going to trade him and he was going to try to make Kawhi happy,” Carter reported on Tuesday. “I never said that before, because I was holding it until now. So, all these discussions about Kawhi going to the East, I believe Popovich is trying to accommodate Kawhi and trying to please him.”

Carter seems to know an awful lot about Leonard’s comings and goings after a year in which news about the two-time Defensive Player of the Year’s thought process has been hard to come by. Leonard missed all but nine games this past season with a mysterious hamstring injury, the treatment of which caused a rift between a Spurs organization that cleared him to play and his own advisors who did not.

How does a former NFL player know so much about a current NBA star?

Asked prior to the playoffs if Leonard would be cleared to play, Popovich told reporters, “You’ll have to ask Kawhi and his group that question.” Not long afterward, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Michael C. Wright reported that the “group” in question included Leonard’s uncle, Dennis Robertson, and agent, Mitch Frankel, and that they contributed to furthering the divide between Kawhi and the Spurs.

Frankel was a football agent before venturing into basketball with Leonard — a move that left Impact Sports, the agency he co-founded, in massive debt and possibly even abandoned, according to ESPN. And, as you might have guessed by now, Frankel represented Carter during his football playing days.

There are always two sides to a story

It’s important to consider this when Carter is reporting news from Leonard’s camp. He may not have the same insight into the Spurs, who can ignore Leonard’s wishes to play in Los Angeles if they find traction on a deal with the Raptors or 76ers or whatever team is willing to offer them the best trade.

It surely is not helping the Spurs that a sports talk show host is relaying Leonard’s wishes to play in L.A. this year or next to a national audience, because no team outside Southern California will offer much of value knowing Leonard doesn’t intend to re-sign with them when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2019. Then, the only hope for the Spurs to get anything close to a fair return for one of the game’s best players when healthy is getting the Lakers and Clippers to bid against each other.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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