NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Kawhi Leonard Trade, Clint Capela, More

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 5, 2018

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) celebrates sinking a basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks onTuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

The Western Conference remains in the spotlight as the NBA offseason rolls on. 

The Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors made big splashes in the opening days of the free-agent period, and now the focus remains on the Lakers, as well as the Houston Rockets, as we await word on where two of the top players in the Western Conference end up. 

Los Angeles is still in the mix to complete a trade for San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, a process that is moving slower than molasses.

Over in Houston, the wait surrounds the decision about restricted free agent Clint Capela's future, as the Western Conference Finals runner-up tries to keep most of its squad in place to chase down the Warriors during the 2018-19 campaign.

Below is a look at the latest buzz about the Leonard trade, Capela's free agency and news about other available free agents. 


Spurs Asking Price For Leonard Is Reportedly High 

The main reason Leonard hasn't been traded could be San Antonio's steep asking price. 

The Spurs are reportedly asking for three of the best young players on the Lakers roster plus draft considerations, per salary cap expert Larry Coon during an appearance on Spectrum Sportsnet: 

Spectrum SportsNet @SpectrumSN

NBA salary cap expert @LarryCoon was on tonight's show to break down the #Lakers' cap space flexibility following today's moves. https://t.co/GTB1fYdQrk

"From what I hear, they're asking a lot. My sources are saying, get ready for this one, they're saying Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, two first (round picks) and two pick swaps. They're just saying give us everything," Coon said.

The astronomical price for Leonard would turn any team, even the Lakers, away from a potential deal because of how much the franchise would give up. 

Even if another team gets involved in trade talks for Leonard, it's easy to assume the Spurs would be difficult in those negotiations as well based off the reported haul they want from the Lakers. 

If this continues to be the asking price from the Spurs, potential suitors, including the Lakers, might be willing to wait until Leonard hits the free-agent market in 2019.

However, there is a scenario in which the Spurs use their high demands as a starting point and end up with a return that is negotiated down but still sets them up for long-term success.

Regardless of what occurs, it looks like the Leonard situation won't be solved any time soon.


Rockets Will Do Everything In Their Power To Keep Capela 

With LeBron James, Paul George, Chris Paul and DeMarcus Cousins off the free-agent market, Capela is the most recognizable name left. 

Since he is a restricted free agent, any offer Capela receives can be matched by the Rockets, and they intend on doing that, per USA Today's Sam Amick: 

Sam Amick @sam_amick

The Rockets are obviously all in on restricted free agent Clint Capela as their man in the middle, with plans to match any offer sheet that comes his way. Cousins as a sixth man with all those question marks wasn't appealing.

Houston's strategy to match all offers for Capela is the only one it should take into account, especially with the growing number of championship threats in the Western Conference. 

Capela is a vital frontcourt asset to have when challenging the Warriors with a healthy Cousins, and it also staves off competition from teams like the Lakers who could have interest in the 24-year-old Swiss forward. 

Although they might not be able to match the high level of talent on the Golden State roster, the Rockets will be in the best shape possible to contend if they get Capela to return and play alongside James Harden and Paul. 


Isaiah Thomas Looking To Get Deal Done In Orlando 

Isaiah Thomas went from coveted asset to free agent languishing on the market in the span of a year. 

The 29-year-old was traded from Boston to Cleveland and then from the Cavaliers to the Lakers, the latter of which was a trade that helped clear cap space in Los Angeles to bring in James. 

Thomas, who has played for five teams since entering the NBA in 2011, could be headed to a sixth destination in free agency, as HoopsHype's Alex Kennedy reported the negotiation of a possible deal between Thomas and the Orlando Magic: 

Alex Kennedy @AlexKennedyNBA

Isaiah Thomas and the Orlando Magic are negotiating a possible deal, according to league sources. Nothing has been agreed to yet, but it seems both sides want to get this done.

The Magic aren't the worst franchise to end up with, but they don't have the contender tag the Celtics and Cavaliers owned. 

Thomas fits a need on an Orlando roster chock full of big men, as D.J. Augustin is the only true point guard in the squad at the moment. 

While it may seem like a downgrade from Thomas' perspective, signing with Orlando might not be the worst thing in the world, as he tries to work his game back to where it was during his time in Boston. 


Wayne Ellington Looking At Return To Miami 

At this point in free agency, teams are looking to bring in veteran players on cheaper deals in order to complete their rosters and remain under the salary cap. 

Wayne Ellington fits that description perfectly, as he carries 10 years of NBA experience on his resume. 

Although a variety of teams are interested in Ellington's services, Yahoo's Jordan Schultz reported most around the league expect the 30-year-old to go back to the Miami Heat: 

Jordan Schultz @Schultz_Report

#Heat FA Wayne Ellington — career-highs w/11.2 points and 58.8 percent TS last season — has a slew of teams interested, but the thought process around the league is that the 30-year-old will likely remain in Miami. #Lakers need shooting for #LeBron, but are running low on cap.

Miami is an intriguing team on the rise in the Eastern Conference, as it has some nice pieces highlighted by Goran Dragic. 

By keeping Ellington on the roster, the Heat will return most of the team that earned the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference. 

Although Miami won't be in the same conversation as Indiana, Boston or Philadelphia when it comes to contending for a title, it could make a run at being the best second-tier team in the Eastern Conference with a full complement of veteran players.


Clippers Interested In Bringing Back Montrezl Harrell 

Another player on the market set for a potential return to the team he played for a year ago is Montrezl Harrell. 

The forward out of Louisville was acquired by the Los Angeles Clippers in the Paul trade last summer in part because of his expiring deal. 

However, Harrell could come back to the Clippers, as Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times noted the Clippers have interest in re-signing the 24-year-old. 

Bringing Harrell back could be difficult for the Clippers, as they have 15 players on their roster. If Harrell comes back to Staples Center, a corresponding move, which could end up being the waiving of a player, has to be made at some point. 

Harrell started to come into his own as an NBA player a year ago, and it would be wise of the Clippers to take another risk on him on a roster in transition. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.