Kawhi Leonard Trade Rumors: Spurs Prefer to Send Star to Eastern Conference

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 23, 2018

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, in Denver. The Spurs won 127-99. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

If the San Antonio Spurs are going to trade Kawhi Leonard, they would prefer to send him to a team they only have to play twice during the regular season. 

USA Today's Sam Amick reported Saturday that if the Spurs can't repair their relationship with the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, a deal sending him to the Eastern Conference is more likely than keeping him in the West. 

Per ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne, the Los Angeles Lakers' attempts to engage the Spurs in discussions for Leonard were immediately shut down. 

Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski noted Leonard will alert teams interested in acquiring him that he intends to sign in Los Angeles when he's eligible for free agency next summer. 

Spurs general manager R.C. Buford told reporters after Thursday's NBA draft that the team's preference is to keep its superstar. 

"Kawhi and his family mean a lot to our organization and to our community," Buford said. "While none of us would wish we are where we are, we are going to do what we can to build the best relationship we can with him. We will explore all of our options, but the first one would be to keep Kawhi as part of our group."

Leonard only played in nine games last season because of ongoing issues with a right quad injury. He finished in the top three of NBA MVP voting in each of the previous two seasons. 

The Spurs made the playoffs without Leonard, but the Golden State Warriors eliminated them in five games in the first round. 

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