Kawhi Leonard Trade Rumors: Spurs Had Talks with Clippers, Suns, Blazers, More

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2018

SAN ANTONIO,TX - JANUARY 13 :  Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs steals the back from Wilson Chandler #21 of the Denver Nuggets at AT&T Center on January 13, 2018  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. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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However, a bidding war among the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers, often considered the top contenders to acquire Leonard, "never materialized."

Wojnarowski and Shelburne also reported that the Spurs have been "determined in demanding a sizable return," saying: "If the Spurs are losing deal leverage, they aren't operating in a manner that suggests they're peddling a depreciating asset."

But it appears teams are reluctant to part with a star in exchange for Leonard, who will be a free agent after the 2018-19 season and has indicated he wants to eventually play for the Los Angeles Lakers. He's also coming off an injury-plagued season, and there's uncertainty over his level of health.

That's a lot of risk to endure, alongside the reality that Leonard is forcing his way out of the Spurs organization, one of the most respected franchises in American sports.

As Wojnarowski and Shelburne reported, the Blazers haven't offered Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum. The Sixers, meanwhile, aren't interested in parting with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons or Markelle Fultz, while Boston has kept Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford out of trade talks with San Antonio.

Per that report, Philly and Boston have offered "pick-heavy packages that haven't moved the Spurs." San Antonio wants "an All-Star-caliber player, high-potential young players and draft assets" in return for Leonard.

Teams can afford to slow play negotiations, a tactic the Spurs themselves will likely employ. The reality for San Antonio, however, is that Leonard's value likely won't get higher than it is this summer. Even if he is still with the Spurs during the season and plays well upon his return, teams aren't going to give up major assets for a potential half-season rental.

Getting Leonard for an entire season is far more appealing and would give the organization that deals for him a year to pitch him on remaining long-term, much as the Oklahoma City Thunder did with Paul George. Thus, the Spurs have a soft deadline, and may need to eventually consider that the best offer they get this summer is the best offer they are likely to get, period.