It sure seems as though Kawhi Leonard will available in an NBA trade this summer, so could the contending team with the most amount of assets in the Boston Celtics be willing to cash everything in for the Spurs swingman?
Given the craziness of the 2016 NBA offseason (Durant to Golden State), and the 2017 NBA offseason (Chris Paul to Houston, Kyrie Irving to Boston, Paul George to Oklahoma City etc.), anything is possible.
Celtics boss Danny Ainge has long been the league master at playing the waiting game when it comes to blockbuster trades. A few months before he swung the Kevin Garnett trade in 2007, Allen Iverson was the big name on the NBA trade block. Ainge waited a little longer and got the better player.
In 2011 and 2012, there were plenty of cries in Boston for the Celtics to trade away Garnett and Paul Pierce while they could still get something of value for them. You’ll remember that there were decent offers presented at the time from teams (the Nuggets and Clippers were teams that reportedly inquired), but Ainge waited for a team to panic – and Brooklyn wound up giving them that pu-pu platter of picks.
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Once again - around 2015 and 2016, some impatient Boston fans wanted to see Ainge flip one of the Brooklyn picks for a Kevin Love or a Blake Griffin. Ainge held firm, and waited for the right deal to fall into his lap once again when Kyrie Irving suddenly became available.
In other words, it pays to wait in the NBA.
While Anthony Davis has been the name most associated with the Celtics as the “missing link” in their quest to not only be able to compete with Golden State but actually topple the mighty Warriors, acquiring Leonard is more realistic for Boston.
Given their current financial situation, it would be next to impossible for the Celtics to trade for Davis this summer without having to part with Al Horford, who has been a revelation for Boston this season.
Leonard’s contract is considerably cheaper than Davis’ and there are avenues that exist (not many, but they do exist) in which the Celtics could fit Leonard’s deal on the books with Irving’s, Gordon Hayward’s and Horford’s.
The issue for Celtics fans here, though, would be that the C’s would surely have to part with Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown (or both) in order for San Antonio to be interested and for it to be able to work financially.
Tatum and Brown have both already shown that they are legit NBA starters and could (both) turn into superstars. The Spurs haven’t gone through a full-fledged rebuild in over 20 years, and it doesn’t look like this summer is going to be the start of one either. They absolutely would want a player like Tatum or Brown over multiple draft picks.