Take your hands off the ESPN Trade Machine. Step back from speculation. Remain calm.
Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs all-everything forward, may be available — may be — after missing all but nine games this season, much of it spent rehabbing a quadriceps injury in Manhattan rather than on the bench with the Spurs. It’s a big reason why San Antonio had its worst year in more than a decade and just suffered a first round exit.
It appears that Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 NBA Finals and the Spurs have had a dispute about how ready he was to play, with Leonard trusting his own medical team over the Spurs. It is very un-Spurs-like and he and the team will either resolve their differences or Leonard will go to the highest bidder.
There are other issues, like if Leonard goes elsewhere, he could miss out on $80 million, the difference between what the Spurs can offer him in a so-called “super-max” deal and what others can pay him under the CBA.
So, would the Nets be interested in the 26-year-old? Are they interested?
Frank Isola of the Daily News, in an article on how the Knicks should be interested (of course!) points out that Sean Marks may have an advantage.
Leonard has enjoyed his time in New York and isn’t averse to playing in a major market. That should also interest the Brooklyn Nets since their general manager, Sean Marks, has a good relationship with Leonard’s New Jersey-based uncle/advisor. Of course, if a player like Leonard is available on the market, you know that Magic Johnson and the Lakers will make a push. Same with Pat Riley and the Miami Heat. Meanwhile, the Sixers and Celtics have the assets to satisfy the Spurs. (Emphasis added)
Leonard’s “uncle /advisor” is Dennis Robertson, who stepped in as a father figure after Leonard’s dad was murdered in his car wash back in January 2008, when Kawhi was a teenager in Compton, California. Robertson advises him on a range of things.
Isola does not specify how the Nets GM knows Robertson or to what depth, but the relationship presumably began during Marks tenure in San Antonio. Marks was assistant coach of the Spurs in their 2014 run to the championship and was assistant GM after that. (A number of others on the Nets staff, including their newest scout, Tiago Splitter, also formerly worked in the San Antonio organization.)
Of course, constructing a competitive track package that would satisfy the Spurs (assuming they would be willing to deal him) would not be easy. In fact, it would be very difficult and will have to start with Caris LeVert and/or Jarrett Allen.
Should the Nets consider it? Leonard is injury prone. As Isola points out, he has missed more than 150 games since joining the Spurs in 2011. That’s nearly two full seasons. He could become a free agent at the end of next season. And although Marks has said he’ll be “opportunistic” if a big deal came along, he’s also warned against “skipping steps” in the Nets rebuild.
Of course, he’s been Defensive Player of the Year twice, First Team All-NBA twice, etc. etc.
Well, it’s fun to speculate. What else we got going? The Draft is still two months away!!
- Kawhi Leonard’s potential split from Spurs could be story of summer, and Knicks should be interested - Frank Isola - New York Daily News