Playoffs 2018 West First Round: Warriors (2) vs. Spurs (7)

San Antonio Spurs potential off-season to do list could include to trade or not to trade Kawhi Leonard

The Spurs are one game away from elimination, and they’ll play a second game without coach Gregg Popovich while he tends to the aftermath of the death of his wife, and there’s still the backdrop of the potential drama with their All-Star forward.

It’s evident by now that Kawhi Leonard has played his final game of the season. This summer. we’ll find out of he’ll ever play again for the Spurs.

Leonard hasn’t seen any action for the last three months because of a quad injury that, under normal circumstances, would’ve healed by now. In any event, there will be a meeting of the minds in the upcoming weeks or perhaps in July and then the Spurs will take some sort of action. Or maybe not.

To trade or not trade Leonard? Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe pondered the issue:

Leonard has one more season on his extension and the Spurs are eligible to offer him a five-year, $200 million deal (called the “super max”), which would keep him in San Antonio through his prime years. The Spurs have traditionally kept their most valuable players such as David Robinson, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker and then changed the roster around those cornerstones.

The smaller-market Spurs will need a return on Leonard if he instructs the team he will not sign beyond next season. There are several teams that will clear salary cap space to trade for Leonard, including the Los Angeles Lakers.

There have been rumors that the Celtics would listen to a Kawhi deal but that would cost them a first-round pick and perhaps Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. That is too rich a price, even for Leonard. There is a growing sentiment in Celtics circles that Tatum is essentially untouchable and Brown is not too far behind.

The Spurs have usually retained their major stars, so a megadeal such as this would be unusual. Would general manager R.C. Buford and Popovich decide to take steps back, get younger players and draft picks and rebuild if Leonard is open to being traded?