It’s going to be like this all year, isn’t it?
With the Nets having all that cap space —and Spurs connections galore — there will be speculation that Kawhi Leonard might be, could be, may be interested in settling in Brooklyn once he becomes a free agent next summer. Unless you’ve been in a cave —or in bed, you know that Leonard was traded from the Spurs to Raptors Wednesday early Wednesday.
And the speculation has begun started on his next stop. On a Canadian podcast Wednesday, as reported by a British newspaper, one of Toronto’s most respected hoops writers says Leonard has been calling fellow stars about joining forces ... and not just in L.A. as rumored.
As reported by The Express in London....
Speaking on the Back To Back podcast today, NBA insider Bruce Arthur suggested Leonard had even begun making calls tentatively planning out his next move before his decision was made for him with the shock trade.
“One thing I was told last night is that Kawhi Leonard had already been planning out his free agency next year,” Arthur said.
“He had already been in contact with other star players in the league saying ‘hey, where might you want to play with me? What are we looking at?’
“And it wasn’t just LA he was talking about. Brooklyn was maybe somewhere that was going to have a ton of cap space, that might have been a possibility.
“Kawhi has already been thinking ahead to pairing up and trying to play at the highest level.
The story is headlined.
“Kawhi Leonard ALREADY recruiting for 2019 free agency, considered joining Brooklyn Nets”
Okay then. The Nets of course went out of their way this summer to clear somewhere between $50 and $70 million in cap space for next summer, perhaps enough that it could be enough for two max contracts. Sounds like enough for a super team.
Of course, any such rumors would be further spurred (you see what we did here?) by the connections the Nets front office already has with Leonard.
Back in May, Frank Isola of the Daily News reported that Sean Marks has great rapport with Kawhi Leonard’s uncle and advisor, South Orange, N.J.-based Dennis Robertson. And Stephen A. Smith said that Marks and new Nets scout Tiago Splitter are plotting to steal Leonard away from San Antonio.
Indeed, as we noted more than once, there are a TON of former Spurs employees working out of the HSS Training Center in Brooklyn. We counted 10, all of them having spent some time with Leonard. There’s Marks of course who was Spurs assistant coach when S.A. last won the Larry O’Brien Trophy and Leonard was the Most Outstanding Player.
Then, there’s Splitter, of course, a teammate of Leonard’s on that team who’s a combination of scout and big man coach; Jacque Vaughn, who was Spurs pro scout in 2015, then pro personnel director; Bret Brielmaier, the Nets assistant who started his career in San Antonio; Trajan Langdon, Marks’ No. 2 who was a member of the team’s front office during their 2013-14 championship season. And on and on and on.
Of course, Leonard is under contract with the Raptors this season and could grow to love the North ... and the extra $50 million in Bird Rights Toronto could pay him. But Arthur also noted, “I had an agent and a guy from another team --not the Raptors-- tell me, ‘Man, Kawhi really doesn’t want to play in Toronto.’”
Of course, there’s the lure of the Lakers, too. They don’t have all those connections, but they have LeBron James who Kawhi outplayed in 2014. And Magic and 17 banners, etc.
So remain calm ... or at least try to. Okay?
- Raptors GM Masai Ujiri bets the house on the home team - Bruce Arthur - Toronto Star
- Kawhi Leonard gives Nets reason to dream about 2019 - Brian Lewis - New York Post