Kawhi Leonard Trade Rumors: Cavaliers Calling Spurs About Star SF

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2018

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, right, drives against San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Cleveland. The Spurs won 118-115 in overtime. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

The Cleveland Cavaliers are "one of several teams making calls to San Antonio about Kawhi Leonard," according to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com.

Landing Leonard would sweeten the pot for LeBron James, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer. And after the Golden State Warriors swept the Cavaliers in the 2018 NBA Finals, it wouldn't be surprising if James either sought a new team better equipped to win a title or only returned to Cleveland if it added another star.       

But it's fair to question if the Cavaliers could put together a trade package that would entice the Spurs

Would Kevin Love and the No. 8 pick in the NBA draft this Thursday get it done? Perhaps, though Cleveland may want to build around the Big Three of James, Leonard and Love. Plus, San Antonio could prefer a package of younger assets. In that case, the Cavaliers could offer Jordan Clarkson, Cedi Osman, Larry Nance Jr. and the eighth selection.

The Spurs could likely get a better deal than that on the market, however.

The Los Angeles Lakers could build a package around young talents such as Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball. The Philadelphia 76ers have intriguing pieces like the No. 10 overall pick, Markelle Fultz and Dario Saric. The Boston Celtics have a treasure trove of assets and could build a deal around young players such as Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, future picks or Kyrie Irving. Even the Los Angeles Clippers could build an offer around the Nos. 12 and 13 selections and Tobias Harris.

Plus, if Leonard is interested in playing in Los Angeles, as league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, he may not sign a long-term extension, which would leave Cleveland high and dry when he can hit free agency (player option) next summer.

On the other hand, rolling the dice on Leonard may entice James to remain with the Cavs for at least one more season. And if James and Leonard click, perhaps they'll decide to pursue a title together in Cleveland beyond the 2018-19 campaign. It's a gamble that's easy to defend.

Given the assets the Cavaliers have to offer, however, it's harder to justify a trade from San Antonio's perspective.

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