Kawhi Leonard made it clear he wanted out of San Antonio earlier last week, leading to just about every team in the association being connected to the longtime Spurs forward.
Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio, league sources tell ESPN.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 15, 2018
One report – from Cleveland.com – suggested the Cleveland Cavaliers are hot on the tail of the 2014 NBA Finals MVP.
Cleveland is among the teams trying to pry Kawhi Leonard away from the Spurs, but assembling a workable offer won’t be easy, Pluto adds in the same story. Kevin Love, who will make $24.1M next season with a player option close to $25.6M for 2019/20, would be useful for salary-matching purposes, but San Antonio seems more interested in acquiring young talent than an established player like Love.
It’s not unreasonable for the Cavs to make an offer to bring in Leonard – every team needs to do their due diligence to land the former All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year. But the chances of pairing Leonard alongside James are next to zero and I’m willing to be it won’t ever happen. Here’s why:
Cleveland doesn’t have the assets to land Leonard:
Pluto hints at this in his report, but there doesn’t exist a feasible deal San Antonio would even consider to trade Leonard to the Cavs, even if they’re incentivized to trade him to the Eastern Conference.
Cleveland’s best asset at the moment is the eighth overall pick brought over from Boston (owned originally by the Nets) in the Kyrie Irving trade. A top-ten pick is a good start, but no combination of Cavs make for an enticing deal. Love is getting older and is injury prone. Cleveland doesn’t have a single desirable young player on their roster. To land Leonard is going to take an epic haul – something the Cavaliers simply can’t offer.
Leonard probably doesn’t want to be 1B in Cleveland
In Leonard trade reports, it’s evident the Spurs star wants to play in a big market and be the face of a franchise. He had one of those two things with San Antonio, but by joining LeBron he would become second fiddle and get the Kevin Love/Chris Bosh treatment – despite his tantalizing skill. You can’t join LeBron and expect to be ‘the guy.’ I’m making an assumption here but a reasonable one.
There’s a decent chance LeBron doesn’t even remain in Cleveland
It’s obvious, but James going elsewhere after bringing a title to Cleveland a few years ago remains a very real possibility. The front office publicly putting it out there the chance of landing Leonard might capture LeBron’s attention but it’s not realistic.
Leonard sticking around long-term in Cleveland with no real direction and without LeBron would be incredibly difficult to pull off – in fact, near impossible.
Getting James to commit in Cleveland, find the right assets to pull off a deal, convince Leonard to be the second “guy” and sign a long-term extension is a tall order. It’s hard to outright dismiss, as crazy things tend to happen during the NBA offseason but it’s hard to foresee a scenario where Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and Cavs GM Koby Altman of all people pull that off.