A Message to Teams Wanting Kawhi: Wait
By Joel Deering
Kawhi Leonard has been a hot topic this offseason. After playing in only nine games for the Spurs last season and then sitting out the playoffs, several people questioned whether or not Kawhi still wanted to be in San Antonio. It turned out he no longer wants to be a member of the Spurs after he requested a trade from the team. Ever since his trade request, several teams have been working to acquire him, but nothing has come about just yet. That actually might be the best thing for these teams. Kawhi Leonard can become a free agent after this coming season, meaning he can choose to sign with any team he wants. I know everyone wants to get him now, but waiting on Kawhi is a much smarter move. Teams wanting Kawhi should ask themselves the following questions to see if making a move for Kawhi now is really worth it.
How Much Will it Take to Get Him?
One of the main reasons why it’s smarter to wait for Kawhi Leonard to become a free agent, is because of what it will take to acquire his services. San Antonio isn’t going to give up Kawhi for a small price. It’s going to take multiple players, most likely players in their prime or younger stars, and multiple picks. I can see why a team would be willing to give that up for Kawhi. When he’s healthy he’s going to be a defensive player of the year candidate. He’s an All-Star. He’s won a championship and has been a Finals MVP. Based on those facts, it sounds worth it to get him now and give up your assets, but teams have to keep the next question in mind also.
Will He Stay More Than One Year?
If you give up multiple players and picks for Kawhi Leonard, you better be sure he’s staying on your team more than one season. Kawhi has made it known he prefers to be traded to the Lakers. Let’s say for example the 76ers trade for Kawhi and have him this season. They’d have to give up some of their key players and picks in order to get. If he leaves for LA the next season, was it worth it to give all that up and now be set back with your assets? The only way it’s worth it is if your team wins a championship in the one year Kawhi was there. If you don’t win the championship and then Kawhi leaves, you just made yourself a worse team because you no longer have those players and picks you gave up to get him. If you could somehow get Kawhi to stay even one additional season it might be worth it, but if he’s only there for a year and then leaves it’s most likely going to be a waste of time and assets.
The best thing a team could do right now in the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes is to wait. I think this is the direction the Lakers are going right now. They know they’d have to give up a lot to get Kawhi, so instead they’re going to wait until he hits free agency next season to sign him long term and not have to give anything up. They know he wants to come to LA, so they have a pretty good chance of getting him next year. Just because Kawhi wants to go to LA, it doesn’t mean other teams don’t have a chance at signing him. Paul George wanted to go to LA and then signed an extension with OKC. If a team like the 76ers, Raptors, Celtics, Rockets, or whoever it might be wants to get Kawhi, they’ll have a shot. Even if they miss out him next offseason, waiting for a chance to sign him long term is better than giving up assets for a one year rental player.