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The NBA off season kickstarted with the report that star forward and former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard has requested a trade from the San Antonio Spurs. We all thought Lebron would be the one that would start the summer off strong but Kawhi beat him to the punch. This has been building for awhile between Kwahi and the Spurs. He missed most of last season with a quad injury and there were reports that he was healthy enough to come back but he never did. He wasn’t even with the team during the playoffs. While the Spurs were in Golden State playing in the playoffs reports were that Kawhi was in New York. New York and Golden State not exactly states that border each other. 

A couple things make this story seem very strange. The Spurs are the model NBA franchise and are often compared to the Patriots in terms of a structured, team first franchise. No one has ever asked to leave San Antonio and players usually take less to play there. Another thing is Kawhi seemed to be the next Tim Duncan. The team first winner who never speaks, doesn’t care about his “brand” or his next shoe contract but apparently we were wrong. There are whispers that Kawhi does care about that stuff. He wants the full max contract. He wants the sneaker deal. And that doesn’t quite fit in the Spurs culture. He also feels he was misled about his injury and didn’t like the timetable that the Spurs put on him. There are times when teams will put out that timetable and say a player will be out 5 weeks for example and that 5 weeks will be up and the player won’t feel he’s ready and then the player will be labeled soft and scared and not willing to play through injury in the eyes of the media and the fans. He went to get a second opinion which the Spurs didn’t like. Clearly this a relationship that has gone beyond repair.

Which brings us to the Boston Celtics. The C’s are the rare combination of being a top team in the league with enough assets and cap space to make a play for any player they want. There was a story earlier this week that the Celtics made an offer to the Spurs for Kawhi back in February and the Spurs refused and didn’t counter offer. Clearly back then the Spurs thought they could repair the relationship with Kawhi. Now with what seems like Kawhi back on the table I’m sure the Celtics will be calling Popovic and asking about Kawhi.

Last week I wrote about how I didn’t want the Celtics to get Lebron and now today I’m writing that I don’t want the Celtics to get Kawhi Leonard. At his best Kawhi is one of the best two way players in the league. Probably the best defensive player in the league and a lot better offensively than I would have ever thought. It really comes down to Jaylen Brown vs Kawhi Leonard for me. Jaylen is 21 years old and seems to be on the upward swing to become “Kawhi lite”. Jaylen is also still on his rookie deal while Kawhi is a free agent next summer and wants that super max contract. Giving up a young star like Jaylen, a first round pick, and other assets for really only one assured year of Kawhi gives me pause. The package now for Leonard won’t be as big as it would’ve been in February because the Spurs have lost leverage now that teams officially know Kawhi wants out, but it’s going to be a hefty price to pay. Give me the young star on the upswing over the potential one year rental.

Kawhi wants to be in Los Angeles or a bigger market than San Antonio and expand his brand and become more of a national figure. This is shocking considering we all thought he was the perfect Spur, the next Duncan, and that we thought he couldn’t speak. You have to think twice about the mindset of a guy that wants to leave the Spurs. Say what you want about Popovich, (and I have) but he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA and never has a player wanted to leave that franchise publicly like Leonard has. I also don’t want to break up the Celtics for the same reasons I wrote in the Lebron article. Why mess with a good thing? Kawhi Leonard wasn’t doing what Jaylen Brown was doing at 21 years old. Jaylen Brown is already a Star and those that want to get rid of him just because he had a awful Game 7 performance play too much NBA 2k18 and need to join the real world. 

No Kawhi, no Lebron for me and the Celtics. Just resign Aaron Baynes and extend The Cobra, Marcus Smart. That’s all that has to be done for the Boston Celtics this off season. Expect a lot to happen this summer in the NBA and expect the Celtics name to come up in every conversation but don’t expect the Celtics to do much.

Disagree? Let me know on Twitter @BJSHEA33

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