Give us a like and we'll keep you in the loop.

We use cookies

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our website, to show you personalized content and targeted ads, to analyze our website traffic, and to understand where our visitors are coming from. By browsing our website, you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies.
The Sports Circle is a place where the world’s most passionate sports fans come together to share stories and earn money while doing what they love most — talking about their favorite sports!

Possible Kawhi Leonard Trades

Unfortunately the Kawhi Leonard era seems like it's coming to an end in San Antonio. Kawhi is under contract next season for 20 million, and has a player option in 19'-20' for 21 million which he surely will turn down. San Antonio can offer Kawhi the “Supermax” Designated Veteran Player Exception contract, which will pay him 35% of the team's salary cap (I won't bore people with contract talk, here's a full article link if you're more interested). If Kawhi turns it down, the Spurs will be forced to trade him, or risk losing him for nothing. Here's some possible trades that make sense for both teams. All salary information courtesy of sportrac.com

San Antonio Spurs Trade

Kawhi Leonard - 20.1 million (41.4 million/2 years, player option year two)

Pau Gasol - 16 million (32 million/2 years)

Total: 36.1 million

Portland Trailblazers Trade

CJ McCollum - 25.8 million (82.8 million/3 years)

Al-Farouq Aminu - 7 million (last year)

Zach Collins - 3.6 million (13.2 million/3 years, team option years two and three)

Future 1st

Total: 36.4 million

If Portland decides that they can't win with a Damian Lillard - CJ McCollum backcourt, they need to trade one. The Blazers starting center Jusuf Nurkic is an impending free agent as well, and the Blazers are going to have trouble bringing him back (they are hamstrung by some really bad contracts). Adding Kawhi and subtracting CJ would improve their defense dramatically, and Gasol could replace Nurkic as the starting center.

The Spurs would bring back a terrific young player they can build an offense around in CJ McCollum. He can play point guard or off the ball if they truly feel like Dejonte Murray is their future at point guard. Zach Collins is showing some promise as a stretch four, and Aminu (obviously not close to Kawhi level) is a solid rotation wing. A future unprotected first round pick would sweeten the deal, and make the trade a little more fair for the Spurs.

San Antonio Spurs Trade

Kawhi Leonard - 20.1 million (41.4 million/2 years, player option year two)

Milwaukee Bucks Trade

Khris Middleton - 13 million (26 million/2 years, player option year two)

Malcolm Brogdon - 1.5 million (last year, restricted free agent)

Sterling Brown - 1.4 million (3 million/2 years, team option year two)

Thon Maker 2.8 million (6.4 million/2 years, team option year two)

Future 1st

Total: 19.7 million

A defensive combination of Kawhi and Giannis would be absolutely terrifying. If Tony Snell can recapture his form from the previous years, alongside Eric Bledsoe and John Henson, there is no reason why the Bucks can’t be the best defensive team in the NBA (no more Jason Kidd either). Their depth would take a serious hit, but it seems like a worthwhile trade off to acquire a superstar to pair with Giannis.

The Spurs would reload with three solid pieces. Middleton is a very underrated player, Brogdon seems like the perfect Spur, and Maker looked like a legimate NBA player last season (different story this season). Compared to the other trades, the return is more about depth versus star quality.

San Antonio Spurs Trade

Kawhi Leonard - 20.1 million (41.4 million/2 years, player option year two)

Pau Gasol - 16 million (32 million/2 years)

Derrick White - 1.7 million (7.14 million/3 years, team option years two and three)

Total: 37.8 million

Boston Celtics Trade

Gordon Hayward - 31.2 million (98.1 million/3 years, player option year three)

Jayson Tatum - 6.7 million (24.4 million/3 years team option years two and three)

Future 1st

Total: 37.9 million

San Antonio Spurs Trade

Kawhi Leonard - 20.1 million (41.4 million/2 years, player option year two)

Rudy Gay - 8.8 million (last year)

Total: 28.9 million

Boston Celtics Trade

Kyrie Irving - 20.1 million (41.4 million/2 years, player option year two)

Jayson Tatum - 6.7 million (24.4 million/3 years team option years two and three)

Guerschon Yabusele - 2.7 million (10.5 million/3 years team option years two and three)

Total: 29.5 million

Celtics fans are going to lose their cookies, but have we forgotten that it was a legitimate conversation last year, is Kawhi Leonard is the best player in the NBA? Danny Ainge is ruthless, has zero loyalty, so why would he be so inclined to hold on to either Kyrie Irving or Gordy Hayward? Here are their rankings the past three years using ESPNs real plus minus, and basketball-references box score plus minus (two rate statistics that don't account for games played to make it fair).

undefined — by Sean Taira
undefined — by Sean Taira
undefined — by Sean Taira
undefined — by Sean Taira

I wonder if they'd do a video tribute when Hayward returns to Boston? The big free agent signing from a year ago would finish his Celtics career with two points and five minutes played. Adding Kawhi and Pau Gasol, who continues to be extremely effective could turn Boston's #1 ranked defense into a complete juggernaut. Gasol could start at center, Al Horford at power forward, and the Celtics could close with a small or big lineup. Losing Tatum would hurt, but to acquiring a top three player would soften the blow.

The Spurs would acquire a solid Kawhi replacement, along with a very promising young player in Tatum. Greg Popovich turned a wing rotation of Rudy Gay, Kyle Anderson, Danny Green, and Manu Ginobili into a playoff team. Acquiring two very talented players for a disgruntled superstar would be a home run for the Spurs, and keep them in championship contention.

The second trade makes more sense in my opinion. Seeing Terry Rozier as a starter, makes he think that Brad Stevens truly is a point guard god. He can plug in almost anyone and make his offense work. Rozier, Jalen Brown, Hayward, Leonard, and Horford would be a dynamite defensive unit that could easily switch everything, similar to Houston and Golden State. Adding Rudy Gay gives them another wing that adds bench depth and is useful in certain matchups.

The Spurs were one of the four teams on Kyrie Irving's Trade list heading into the season. Is it crazy to think that Danny Ainge and the Celtics would Kyrie after just one season? Wasn't Isaiah Thomas the “King of the North” and a Celtic for life? Kyrie is also dealing with reoccurring knee injuries, and there is no sure thing when it comes to future health, wasn't Isaiah's hip a minor issue too? Kyrie was engaged and active defensively in the beginning of the season, but regressed to the defensive liability he has been his whole career. Maybe Pop can turn him into a competent defensive player, they might be a perfect match.