by Rafael Bandayrel
The San Antonio Spurs and Kawhi Leonard are in a weird spot as controversy surrounds both parties, which sparked speculation that the all-star forward will be made available to the trade market after this season.
According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, rumors are swirling that the Spurs could part ways with Leonard in the off-season because of different issues that have been hounding both camps.
Leonard played only nine games this season before he was sidelined indefinitely by the Spurs due to a nagging quad injury.
“I’ll be surprised if he returns this season,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said about Leonard’s status. “We only have x number of games this season and he’s still not ready to go. And if by some chance he is it’s gonna be pretty late into the season and it’s gonna be a tough decision.”
The decision to stay out of action could be Leonard’s decision, however. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Leonard has been medically cleared to play but he chose not to suit up because he still suffers discomfort due to the injury that has bothered him since the preseason.
One of the best destinations for the 26-year-old is Boston. Currently, LeBron James still rules the Eastern Conference – even with the mid-season struggles – and the Cleveland Cavaliers are still favorites to come out of their conference despite settling for the third seed.
Leonard donning a green jersey, however, could change the equation in the East. The Cavs are in their most vulnerable state since LeBron came back in 2014. After the Kyrie Irving trade, LeBron’s Cavs are left without a second consistent scorer, and for the first time, Cleveland does not look like invincible.
While Celtics GM Danny Ainge is focused on signing New Orleans big man Anthony Davis, he should also consider Leonard as he had proved to match-up well against LeBron defensively. Adding to the fact that Gordon Hayward will be making his proper debut for the Celtics next season, the league could see new kings in the East.