As the Kawhi Leonard situation drags out, the more mysterious and complicated it seems to become. The line between what is fact and what is posturing via reporters has gradually blurred, making it difficult to determine one from the other. Prime examples of this seem to be coming from the top two NBA reporters in the industry, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.
According to Woj, Leonard is still focused on the Lakers as his preferred trade destination, which has been rumored since the first murmurs of his discontent emerged. However, according to Shams, this is not the case, stating on Colin Cowherd’s “The Herd” that “I don’t think Kawhi Leonard is jumping for joy now that LeBron is a Laker. If anything, he’ll be more open to joining the Clippers” (listen to around 26:30). So…who is to be believed?
Personally, I think the truth is somewhere in between. I think LA is a destination due to his family and his desire to play in a bigger market. However, I don’t believe he wants to feel overshadowed by LeBron James, which is usually the norm with players that join forces with the superstar small forward (ie. Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving). This also may very well be a leverage attempt by the Spurs, with San Antonio and Leonard’s camp separately using Wojnarowski and Charania to do their bidding.
As is pertains to the other major suitors (Boston and Philadelphia), neither team is putting their top players on the table in any deal, with Boston preferring to dip once more into their treasure chest of picks to make a deal happen instead of trading their top 5 players (assuming this means Irving, Brown, Hayward, Tatum and Horford). The only other way Boston can make a deal come to fruition is by finagling a third team into a deal to provide additional salary or perhaps offering Marcus Smart in a sign and trade with additional assets; their path to another superstar remains complicated and murky due to salary/cap issues.
Philadelphia, after acquiring forward Wilson Chandler from the Denver Nuggets and absorbing him into their cap space, have the financial centerpiece for a Leonard trade (Wilson is owed $12.8 Million for 2018-19, the final year of his current deal). But whether the Spurs would be satisfied with Chandler as a main cog in a deal has remained to be seen. Philly’s reluctance to trade key assets (much like Boston’s case) has chilled talks between them and the Spurs on Leonard.
At this rate, I do believe Leonard will be moved. I don’t believe the Spurs will be happy with whatever they receive in return (from ANY team), but rarely is any team in trading a disgruntled superstar. But the longer this staring contest continues, the more and more leverage slips away from San Antonio’s grasp. Someone is bound to blink soon, and in my opinion, before mid-August at the latest.
Celtics’ Jaylen Brown Expects to Come off the Bench
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown may be returning to action later this week after missing three straight games due to a tailbone injury, but he expects to come off the bench when he finally does return to the court.
“I believe in my ability,” Brown said, according to MassLive’s Tom Westerholm. “Coaching staff believes in my ability. If coming off bench makes sense – people make it a bigger deal than it really is. At end of the day it’s basketball. (Gordon) Hayward came off the bench & had 30 points. It’s a mindset. It’s a choice.”
Celtics’ Kyrie Irving Only Wants to Play into Mid-30s in NBA
Irving stated that he only wants to play in the NBA until his early-mid 30s, according to Celtics reported Marc D’Amico.
Kyrie Irving says he only wants to play in the NBA until his early to mid-30s.
— Marc D’Amico (@Marc_DAmico) November 23, 2018
Irving is the franchise cornerstone for Boston and is posting 22.4 points, 6.4 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game this season for the Celtics.
Celtics Pick Up Options on Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Guerschon Yabusele
Brown’s fourth-year option guarantees his $6,534,829 cap charge for next season, while Tatum will be locked in for a $7,830,000 cap hit for the 2019-2020 season, both moves considered to be no brainers given their development.
The decision on Yabusele, who hasn’t shown much of anything over 38 games since joining Boston, is a bit more of a surprise, but the Celtics see something in his to warrant their decision to keep him a part of their team moving forward.
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