As the offseason rolls on, the anticipation of where Kawhi Leonard will be traded continues. Where will Kawhi Leonard be playing on opening night? Will he be in LA with LeBron? Or Philly with Joel Embiid? Or Boston with Kyrie? Well… maybe not Boston. While appearing on ESPN, Adrian Wojnarowski mentioned that the Boston Celtics wouldn’t be willing to trade any of their top-5 players.
*Although he did not mention who the players were, it’s fair to assume he was referring to Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, and Jaylen Brown.*
This news is not shocking in the slightest. Not only is his health still a mystery, Kawhi Leonard has consistently stated that he wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. By doing this, he is making it known to other teams that they’d be trading for a “rental” player. Sure, you can use the example that Paul George stated he wanted to play for LA but ultimately stayed in OKC. But keep in mind, this is a very different situation. PG’s situation wasn’t as bad as this one. And as much as I’d like to sit here and act like Kawhi would want to stay in Boston if he comes here, I think he’s too far gone.
There’s nothing more I’d want to see than Kawhi and Kyrie next to each other in Celtics’ uniforms. I would just like to see them together in Celtics’ uniforms for more than one year. Danny Ainge is playing it smart, and it’s the best thing for them to do. Right now the Celtics are in a position to sweep through the Eastern Conference. With everybody coming back healthy, and everybody almost back on contract, the Celtics are all but a lock to make the Finals. Adding Kawhi Leonard makes the team better now, but if Kawhi does what he’s been saying he’d be doing for a long time now, then this decision will blow up in Danny’s face.
Philly is playing it smart too. They have not offered any of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, or Markelle Fultz. In this situation, including Markelle Fultz in a trade for Kawhi would make sense. First of all, he is coming off a year-long injury (basically) and forgot how to shoot a basketball for a bit. And, Ben Simmons is running their point guard position. Trading away the first overall pick that you just drafted a year ago may be a bad look, but acquiring Kawhi would be worth it. But by not including Fultz in any trade packages means that they know the chances of Kawhi coming back are slim, and they don’t want to part with any of their future to get him for one year.
The Spurs are making this hard on themselves, too, because they’re not only asking for draft picks but also players who can take them to the postseason. Danny Ainge is reportedly ready to offer a pick-heavy trade package, along with players to complete the trade (Rozier, Morris), but that’s about it. I don’t blame him either. If Kawhi gives you no assurance that he’ll come back after this season, there’s no sweat over missing out on getting him.