Kawhi Leonard

Spurs Listening To Leonard Offers; Lakers Have Inquired

2:49pm: The Lakers have reached out to the Spurs about dealing for Leonard, but no specifics have been discussed, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. The contact came within the past week, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, with a Lakers’ source saying, “they basically shut the door on us.” (Twitter link)

1:20pm: The Spurs are willing to listen to offers on Kawhi Leonard but haven’t spoken with the Lakers, Leonard’s preferred landing spot, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

San Antonio has not been making calls about Leonard but it will field offers and add them to the list of proposals, Wojnarowski adds. This suggests that the Spurs’ front office is losing hope of resolving the impasse between the club and its star forward.

With Leonard still under contract, San Antonio isn’t in any hurry to make a trade. Unless there’s a dramatic and overwhelming proposal, it’s not going to happen on draft night.

Leonard met with head coach Gregg Popovich on Tuesday in San Diego but that didn’t alter his request to be traded. Leonard’s desire to be dealt over the way the franchise handled his quad injury last season, and comments make by Popovich and guard Tony Parker about his ability to play, was revealed last week.

Leonard can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Eastern Notes: Celtics, Heat, Sixers, Hornets, Nets

The Celtics figure to be one the primary suitors for Kawhi Leonard if the Spurs make him available this summer, but it won’t be easy for Boston to determine what sort of pieces to offer, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Currently, the Celtics’ roster combines veterans like Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, and Kyrie Irving with young, up-and-coming stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, potentially opening up a very long window of title contention for the franchise.

While most pundits would argue that surrendering Brown and multiple first-rounders in a deal for Leonard is a no-brainer, such a deal “tilts Boston more toward the present,” Lowe writes. Lowe also explores whether Brown has the upside to become a Leonard-type player in the long run, arguing that the Celtics would have reason to be wary of giving up 2016’s third overall pick — especially without any long-term assurances from Kawhi.

Meanwhile, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News explores the Leonard situation and notes that the Spurs have heard from multiple “serious suitors,” including the Celtics, Cavaliers, and Sixers. However, executives who spoke to Deveney don’t anticipate a Kawhi deal being made before or during the draft.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Heat will be over the cap this summer, but can still be involved in free agency. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald examines the scenarios in which Miami could afford to add a free agent or two, and identifies a few potential targets for the club.
  • Texas Tech wing Zhaire Smith said today that the Sixers wanted to work out him for a second time in order to take a closer look at his shooting and ball-handling development, tweets Jake Fischer of SI.com. The No. 10 pick may be a little high for Smith, who may not last until Philadelphia’s next pick at No. 26, but the club has explored trade options, so he shouldn’t be ruled out as a potential target.
  • Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer lays out the case for why the Hornets were eager to get rid of veteran center Dwight Howard. Charlotte is reportedly finalizing a trade with Brooklyn that will send Howard to the Nets.
  • The Nets worked out a large number of early entrant prospects who ultimately ended up withdrawing from the draft and going back to school. Net Income of NetsDaily explains how those auditions could pay off for the team in the long run.

Kawhi Leonard, Popovich Meet In San Diego

Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard met with head coach Gregg Popovich on Tuesday in San Diego, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reports.

The meeting was conducted professionally and confidentially, according to Charania, but there’s no indication that Leonard has softened his stance on being traded. Leonard’s desire to be moved, with Los Angeles being his preferred destination, was revealed last week.

Today’s meeting had been scheduled for weeks and was not a response to Leonard’s trade request, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets.

There has been steady communication between the Spurs’ front office and Leonard’s representatives, Charania adds. If Leonard is willing to stay put and sign a max extension with the Spurs, that could alter plans for several teams who have been angling to put together a package deal for him.

However, according to Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com, Leonard has privately maintained that he no longer wants to play for the Spurs, and intends to eventually let suitors know that his intention is to sign in L.A. – preferably with the Lakers – when he reaches free agency in 2019.

The Spurs likely won’t be eager to facilitate a trade to the Lakers for Leonard, who remains upset over the team’s handling of his quad injury, as well as public comments from Popovich and teammate Tony Parker about the situation, per Shelburne and Wojnarowski.

While San Antonio has encouraged teams calling about Leonard to make offers if they so choose, the club has been “largely reluctant” to provide guidance on what sort of package it’s seeking, league sources tell the ESPN duo. The Spurs’ top priority continues to be talking with Leonard and his camp to work through the issues, according to Shelburne and Wojnarowski.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Cavs Rumors: LeBron, Love, Trade Talks, Coaches

While LeBron James will have until June 29 to exercise or decline his 2018/19 player option, his final decision on his next team won’t happen quickly and figures to stretch into July, Adrian Wojnarowski said on Monday during a draft special on ESPN (Twitter link via Sagar Trika). If that’s the case, James seems more likely to opt out than to opt in next week, which would have an impact on which suitors are viable destinations, as I explained here.

Meanwhile, Wojnarowski also reports that the Cavaliers would like to package Kevin Love and the No. 8 pick for a star player on draft night, but that combo may not net the kind of star they’re seeking (Twitter link via Trika). As Wojnarowski observes, Love’s value isn’t at its peak and the Brooklyn first-rounder isn’t quite as strong as Cleveland had hoped, limiting the appeal of that package to some extent.

Let’s round up a few more Cavs notes and rumors…

  • The Cavaliers have talked to the Grizzlies on more than one occasion, according to Sam Amico of AmicoHoop.net, who cautions that he doesn’t know the specifics of those discussions. Memphis is reportedly open to the idea of attaching Chandler Parsons‘ contract to the No. 4 pick in a trade, so it’s possible Cleveland has checked in on that possibility.
  • Echoing a Monday report, Amico confirms that the Cavaliers are expressing interest in Hornets point guard Kemba Walker and have kicked the tires on disgruntled Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.
  • Although Amico expects the Cavs to hang onto the No. 8 pick, a lot of teams are interested in trading up to that spot, including the Nets.
  • The Cavs have had discussions about potentially acquiring another late first-round pick “to help open up the possibilities,” a league source tells Amico.
  • The Cavs are parting ways with assistant coach Jim Boylan and player development coach Phil Handy, multiple league sources tell Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. By not renewing the contracts for Boylan and Handy, the Cavs are clearing the path to give Dan Geriot and Damon Jones larger roles on their coaching staff, per ESPN’s report. No longer employed in Cleveland, Handy may be a candidate to join Nick Nurse‘s Raptors staff, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.

Kings Don’t Want Clippers’ Lottery Picks

The Kings are not interested in trading the No. 2 overall pick for the Clippers’ back-to-back selections at No. 12 and No. 13, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

The Kings reportedly are willing to move down to acquire additional assets but apparently they’re not keen to drop out of the Top 10 for two late lottery selections. The Clippers, who didn’t make the playoffs, acquired an additional first-round selection in the deal that sent Blake Griffin to the Pistons.

Sacramento is reportedly willing to do business with the Spurs and include the pick in a trade for Kawhi Leonard, though that seems to be a longshot since Leonard can exercise an early termination option on his contract after next season.

What Turner’s tweet confirms is that the Clippers are actively seeking to package the picks and move into the Top 5. That reinforces a Yahoo Sports report earlier this month that also claimed they have their eyes on Euroleague guard Luka Doncic.

If the Kings hold onto their pick, it’s a near lock they’ll pick Duke big man Marvin Bagley III, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Eddie Sefko (Twitter link).

What should the Kings do with their pick? Voice your opinion in our latest Community Shootaround topic.

Cavs Willing To Trade Lottery Pick For Vets

The Cavaliers are seeking proven veterans from teams looking to move up in the draft despite not knowing LeBron Jamesplans for the future, Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Cleveland has the No. 8 overall pick on Thursday, courtesy of the Kyrie Irving blockbuster deal with the Celtics last summer. The front office has sent signals that it intends to upgrade the team, even if James opts out of his contract or requests a trade, Vardon continues.

Cleveland has sent out feelers to the Spurs about their willingness to deal disgruntled forward Kawhi Leonard. Hornets point guard Kemba Walker is another potential target, according to Vardon. Adding another impact player would be a way of trying to entice James to stay put but, of course, there’s no guarantee that will convince him to do so.

The front office and James’ camp have been in contact over the phone and in person lately, though the team’s brass hasn’t met with James,, sources told Vardon. There have not been any serious discussions regarding his future because James remains uncertain what he’s going to do, Vardon adds.

Despite their willingness to deal, the Cavaliers could still hold onto the pick.

Adding another veteran or two, especially if Cleveland uses the $5.8MM trade exception it possesses, would present even more salary-cap issues. The Cavs will pay about $50MM in luxury-tax penalties on last season’s payroll, Vardon notes, and they’ll still be over the cap even if James bolts without them trading for more help. Yet the Cavs’ front office is still willing to take on more salary with the hope of improving their chances to retain James, Vardon adds.

Kawhi Leonard Rumors: Clippers, Lakers, Celtics

The first major story of the NBA offseason broke on Friday, when multiple reports indicated that Kawhi Leonard wanted out of San Antonio. While the Spurs will take a patient, measured approach to the situation and won’t rush Leonard out the door, there was certainly no shortage of trade rumors surrounding the star forward over the weekend.

We’ve got a few more Kawhi-related items to round up this morning, so let’s dive right in…

  • Both the Lakers and Clippers have some concerns about the severity of Leonard’s quad injury, writes Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. While no player on the Lakers’ roster is untouchable, the team’s willingness to part with major pieces for Leonard would depend on how confident the front office is in his health.
  • Assuming the Clippers are comfortable with Leonard’s health, they’d be willing to create a package headlined by Tobias Harris and the 12th or 13th pick in this year’s draft, a source tells Ganguli.
  • Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks of ESPN.com take a closer look at what the Celtics could offer for Leonard, exploring whether higher-priced veteran stars like Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward could be trade chips or whether Boston could put together a package using a handful of less expensive players.
  • Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com examines the impact that the Leonard situation could have on LeBron James‘ decision this summer.
  • The Leonard saga represents the “end of the innocence” for Spurs fans, Mike Finger explains in a column for The San Antonio Express-News.

Cavaliers Notes: Nance, Clarkson, Hill, Leonard

The Cavaliers aren’t likely to launch a complete rebuilding project if LeBron James leaves in free agency, writes writes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Three of the players Cleveland acquired at this year’s trade deadline — Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson and George Hill — are all under contract for next year, and the Cavs want to see what they can do when they’re with the organization from the start of the season.

Cleveland is likely to discuss an extension with Nance, who will make $2.3MM next season on the final year of his rookie contract. Teams have called about trading for Nance, Pluto states, but the Cavaliers seem committed to keeping him. Clarkson struggled in the playoffs, but was a valuable bench scorer during the regular season and the Cavs recognize that this was his first postseason experience. Hill has limited trade value with a $17MM contract.

The future is more unpredictable for Rodney Hood, who seemed like a good young player in Utah but had a miserable time after the trade. Pluto expects the Cavaliers to tender a $3.4MM qualifying offer, giving them the right to match any offer Hood receives in free agency.

There’s more Cavaliers news this morning:

  • Cleveland is among the teams trying to pry Kawhi Leonard away from the Spurs, but assembling a workable offer won’t be easy, Pluto adds in the same story. Kevin Love, who will make $24.1MM next season with a player option close to $25.6MM for 2019/20, would be useful for salary-matching purposes, but San Antonio seems more interested in acquiring young talent than an established player like Love.
  • Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t think LeBron James should let the pursuit of more championships guide his free agency decision, relays Scott Gleeson of USA Today. “My problem toward the end of my career was I was trying to shut everybody up and I was greedy [for more championships],” O’Neal said. “After I got to three [titles], everybody was saying I couldn’t get another. So I got four. After I got the fourth, they were saying I couldn’t get another one. So I was trying to make quick stops to get it. Phoenix, Cleveland, Boston.” O’Neal adds that it will be difficult for James to overcome the Warriors no matter where he goes.
  • James’ decision will dominate the summer, but the Cavs have some under-the-radar moves to make as well, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Cleveland has a team option on veteran center Kendrick Perkins that must be exercised by June 29. His $2.4MM salary for 2018/19 would be non-guaranteed. Okaro White, who was signed late in the season, will get a chance to show what he can do during summer league. Half of his $1.5MM salary for next year will become guaranteed if he is still on the roster Aug. 5.

Latest On Kawhi Leonard

The Suns won’t consider including the top pick in this year’s draft as part of a package to acquire Kawhi Leonard, writes Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Shortly after Leonard’s representatives announced Friday that he wanted out of San Antonio, rumors started flying that the Suns are interested and would be willing to part with their draft choice to make it happen.

The biggest obstacle to a deal, according to Bordow, is Leonard’s ability to become a free agent next summer and his expressed desire to join the Lakers. Phoenix isn’t willing to risk giving away a young building block like Deandre Ayton, along with the other assets it would take to complete a trade, if Leonard is only guaranteed to stay for one year.

San Antonio is reportedly seeking young players with star potential, which is a description that Bordow states describes just two Suns, Devin Booker, who is considered untouchable, and rookie forward Josh Jackson. If Phoenix does get involved in a Leonard deal, it will most likely be as a facilitator, according to Bordow. The Suns have enough cap space to take Luol Deng‘s contract from the Lakers, as long as they receive a young player in return, such as Lonzo Ball.

There’s more Leonard-related news tonight:

  • The Lakers may be the oddsmakers’ favorites to acquire Leonard, but a source close to the Spurs tells Frank Isola of The New York Daily News that the Celtics and Sixers can offer better deals. Isola speculates that Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward could be the asking price from Boston. Another source says Leonard enjoyed living in South Orange, New Jersey, and would be willing to play for the Knicks or the Nets. Isola lists the Heat and Clippers as other teams that could put together enticing trade offers.
  • Any team that trades for Leonard will be taking a significant risk because of his uncertain medical condition, writes Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated. ESPN reported last month that the Spurs believe the injury that limited him to nine games this season was just a deep bone bruise, while his representatives call it a hardening of the area after repeated bruising “and then an atrophy, which in turn affected the tendons connecting the muscle to the knee.”
  • In addition to the on-court factors that could affect Leonard’s destination, he is a free agent with shoe companies, tweets ESPN’s Nick DePaula. The size of the market Leonard goes to could affect the endorsement offers he gets. He reportedly turned down a four-year, $20MM extension offer this winter from Jordan Brand, a division of Nike.

Celtics Notes: Leonard, Irving, Draft, Summer League

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge is wary of paying a steep price for Kawhi Leonard without a guarantee that he’ll stay more than one season, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Leonard has asked for a trade out of San Antonio and the Celtics may be able to put together the best offer, but Ainge will probably be cautious, according to Washburn.

He suggests Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum would have to be part of the package, along with the rights to the Kings’ first-rounder in 2019. It might be easier to match salaries by including Gordon Hayward, but his trade value has dropped after missing the season with a severe ankle fracture.

Kyrie Irving can already opt out next season, and the Celtics might be reluctant to have two stars on their roster who could leave at the same time, especially if it means breaking up a young core that looks like it will be a contender for several years.

There’s more today from Boston:

  • Irving hopes to resume playing again “in like a month,” he said in an appearance this week on The Bill Simmons Podcast. NBC Sports Boston relayed a few of his comments, including an explanation of what it was like to deal with a knee infection that forced him to miss the entire playoffs. “I was leaving the games at halftime because I had eight-hour shifts of antibiotics I had to take for my infection,” Irving said. “I had a PICC line in my arm for two months and I’m just like… every day is like OK, I can’t necessarily lift, I can’t run, I can’t do anything. If I didn’t have my PICC line in for my infection I would have definitely tried to go after being ready for at least the Eastern Conference Finals.”
  • The Celtics have a recent history of going the draft-and-stash route late in the first round, but the overseas talent doesn’t warrant it this year, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Apart from Luka Doncic, the only foreign players with a shot at being taken in the first round are French point guard Elie Okobo and Bosnian wing Dzanan Musa, according to Blakely.
  • Guerschon Yabusele, Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird are all expected to be part of the Celtics’ summer league team in Las Vegas, Washburn notes. Bird has a two-way contract, so Boston has to make a qualifying offer before he is eligible. Jay Larranaga will coach the team.