A meeting with Kawhi Leonard will be the Spurs’ top priority of the offseason, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPN. Head coach Gregg Popovich is expected to lead the session as the team tries to determine whether it can work through a dispute with its top player and forge a long-term relationship.
An MVP candidate last year, Leonard was limited to nine games this season by a lingering quad injury. He was cleared to return by team doctors, but not by his personal physicians in New York, where he made two extended visits during the season. Rumors persisted of disharmony between Leonard and the organization, and they intensified when he opted not to join the team for its playoff series.
“Kawhi, everybody asks questions, but he’s still here,” Danny Green said after last night’s season-ending loss at Golden State. “He’s still locked in. He’s a part of the team until things change.”
This summer’s meeting will go a long way for the Spurs in deciding whether to offer Leonard a supermax extension valued at about $219MM over five years. Complicating matters, Wright notes, are divorce proceedings between Peter Holt, the team’s former chairman and CEO, and Juliana Hawn Holt, the current chairman and co-CEO, which could affect any major financial decisions for the organization.
Wright offers more news about possible changes coming in San Antonio:
- Manu Ginobili is signed for $2.5MM next season, but isn’t sure if he’ll return. Ginobili, who will turn 41 in July, plans to make the decision sometime this summer. “As I’ve done it the last two or three seasons, I’ll sit back, relax and, after two or three months, see if I feel retired or not,” he said. “I like to let it season a little bit, to see how I feel. Don’t expect news until July, probably. I just don’t know. I let a month, two months go by and see how I feel. I’m not the type of guy who makes decisions on the fly, and when you are upset, hurt or whatever.”
- Tony Parker, who turns 36 next month, is headed toward free agency after 17 years with the Spurs. He has expressed a desire to return to the team, but will probably have to accept a significant pay cut after making $15.4MM this season. “I said already I want to keep playing,” Parker stated. “I’m happy I don’t have those retirement parties. I want to keep playing, and we’ll see if it’s in San Antonio. Everybody knows I would love to stay here. But free agency is always crazy, so we’ll see.”
- Pau Gasol, 37, expressed a desire to play another three to four seasons. He is under contract for $16.8MM next year, with a non-guaranteed $16MM in 2019/20.
- Green [$10MM for next season], Rudy Gay [$8.8MM] and Joffrey Lauvergne [$1.7MM] all have a June 29 deadline to exercise their player options. “This organization is a big part of me,” Green said, “and I would love to play here again, would love to come back. But things get interesting in free agency.”