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Celtics Rumors: Latest on LeBron James, Potential Kawhi Leonard Trade

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2018

The Celtics have the pieces to put together a serious package for Kawhi Leonard.
The Celtics have the pieces to put together a serious package for Kawhi Leonard.Associated Press

Boston Celtics general manager and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will not be satisfied unless his team brings home an NBA championship.

The Celtics showed great heart and improvement in getting to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Finals this past season despite major injuries to Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

Ainge may have a chance to make his team stronger by getting involved in the LeBron James sweepstakes and a potential trade for Kawhi Leonard.

The 26-year-old has made it clear he does not want to return to the San Antonio Spurs, and the Celtics are expected to show interest in the talented forward, per Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.

Leonard played in just nine games last season as a result of a quadriceps injury. However, the Spurs thought he was ready to play at several points during the season.

The Celtics appear to have interest in Leonard because they inquired about him prior to the trade deadline, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. 

The Boston Celtics could be one of the interested suitors for LeBron James.
The Boston Celtics could be one of the interested suitors for LeBron James.Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
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The Celtics also have some interest in acquiring LeBron James, as do many others. What team wouldn't be interested in acquiring the game's best player?

Himmelsbach wrote that a league source reported it was "unlikely" James would sign with the Celtics as a free agent, but Boston is always interested in finding ways to bring a superstar player aboard.

The Celtics' ability to make a deal for Leonard would seemingly have a much greater chance of becoming reality than the signing of James.

If and when the Spurs come to the conclusion that Leonard will have to be traded because he no longer will play for the organization, they would be better off trading him to an Eastern Conference team than a more frequent competitor in the Western Conference.

Additionally, the Celtics would have more to offer in a trade than other potential partners because they have excellent and young talent. 

The Celtics might have to move Jaylen Brown in a possible trade for Kawhi Leonard.
The Celtics might have to move Jaylen Brown in a possible trade for Kawhi Leonard.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

One of the most attractive players in a potential deal is second-year forward Jaylen Brown, who averaged 14.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game last year and played a key role in Boston's playoff run. In addition to Brown, the Celtics would likely include at least one more player and a draft pick.

Leonard would offer the Celtics tremendous talent and athleticism, and given the progress of rookie Jayson Tatum along with the addition of a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics would have an excellent opportunity to put one of the NBA's two most talented lineups on the floor on a nightly basis.

The NBA champion Golden State Warriors would certainly remain at the top with their superstar-laden lineup that includes Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. However, it would be difficult to find another team that compares to the Celtics' overall quality if they added Leonard.

The addition of James would require major changes to the Celtics' salary structure because bringing in the King would almost certainly require a maximum deal.

While James has the ability to dominate on a nightly basis, his presence might cause some friction with Irving. Those two were teammates in Cleveland, and Irving was traded last summer to the Celtics, in part because he was tired of playing second fiddle to James (per ESPN.com).

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