Kawhi Leonard Trade Rumors: Celtics' Top 5 Players 'Off Limits' in Talks

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2018

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 13:  Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Denver Nuggets on January 13, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mark Sobhani/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics aren't prepared to mortgage their future to acquire San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Celtics consider their top five players "off limits" in any negotiations with the Spurs. Wojnarowski added Boston is prepared to make a "pick-heavy" offer but that San Antonio is looking to add players as well:

All things considered, the Celtics don't have a compelling reason to give up some combination of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and draft picks for Leonard.

For one, Boston is arguably the strongest team in the Eastern Conference with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward coming back from injuries. The Celtics were a game away from reaching the 2018 NBA Finals, and they no longer have to worry about the Cleveland Cavaliers now that LeBron James agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, per Klutch Sports Group. 

Then there are the concerns surrounding Leonard.

He appeared in just nine games this past season while battling a quad injury. Neither San Antonio's nor Leonard's representatives divulged much about the injury, so it's not immediately clear what kind of player he'll be in 2018-19.

Leonard can also opt out of his contract next summer, with Wojnarowski reporting he still prefers a move to the Los Angeles Lakers.

That doesn't necessarily mean Leonard signing with the Lakers in 2019 is a foregone conclusion.

During the final installment of his three-part ESPN series detailing his free agency, Paul George revealed he wanted a similar move during the 2017 offseason. However, his attitude changed, and he agreed to a four-year, $137 million extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder, per Wojnarowski.

Like George, Leonard could have a change of heart and feel comfortable in different surroundings.

Unless the Spurs lower their asking price, though, the Celtics shouldn't take the risk.

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