Kawhi Leonard requested a trade from the San Antonio Spurs on Friday which essentially declared the offseason is officially here. It isn’t often that a top 5 caliber player becomes available on the open market. Leonard truly could be the missing piece to a championship team. The former 2014 NBA Finals MVP is a terrific player on both ends of the floor which is becoming more and more important in today’s NBA. It appears that Kawhi has his sights set on the Lakers but the 76ers, Clippers, and Celtics also figure to have a say in where he ultimately ends up.
The Celtics are really the team that stands out as a ready-made contender. I mean this is a team that made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals without their best two players. In a perfect world, the Celtics would love to add Leonard as the missing piece to bring home Banner 18. The problem is there really isn’t a realistic scenario of adding Leonard to the roster. Let’s take a look at why Boston will likely pass on making a deal for Kawhi Leonard.
The first hurdle in negotiations would be there frankly is no way to put together a trade offer. Kawhi will earn a notch over $20 million this season which means that the Celtics have to put together roughly $17 million in matching salaries to get the trade done. Terry Rozier makes $3 million, Marcus Morris makes $5 million, and Guerschon Yabusele makes around $2.5. That doesn’t get it done. The only way for Boston to make the deal work would be by adding Marcus Smart into the deal as a sign and trade piece. Smart wants a deal in the range of $10-$12 million by may settle for the qualifying deal at $6 million to hit the unrestricted market a year from now. A: getting the Spurs to want Marcus Smart isn’t a guarantee. B: Messing around with a sign and trade market for a restricted free agent is very tricky.
The Twitter meatheads also don’t understand the fact that Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are virtually untouchable. We need to start looking at stars under rookie deals similar to a franchise quarterback on a cheap contract. It’s the most valuable thing in the sport. Why would you trade a player who makes pennies to ship him out for a player that makes 4x the amount? With 3 max players already on the roster, having the cheap contracts of Brown and Tatum on the books is what makes the Celtics so lethal in the first place. Brown and Tatum aren’t going anywhere for any player that becomes available on the market because it doesn’t make sense to trade them from a financial perspective.
Also, don’t even get me started on moving Kyrie Irving. That’s not happening either for obvious reasons that I don’t even need to waste time typing about. Hayward isn’t going anywhere either because his dad is basically the head coach. Hayward is also a stud so don’t talk to me about that one either.
As much as the Celtics have the draft capital to get it done, without Tatum, Brown, Irving, Hayward, and Horford in a deal, there’s no way of getting the deal done. Let’s also not forget the fact that Kawhi wants to go to the Lakers! Do you really want to gamble on the fact that Kawhi would re-sign with an organization that he probably grew up hating? In a perfect world, sure I would love the Celtics to add Kawhi Leonard. The problem is this isn’t a perfect world. Nobody is set up better to win the 2019 Title than the Boston Celtics with our without Leonard. Passing on Leonard is Boston’s only option….Unless Danny Ainge pulls off a miracle.