This morning, the news broke that Kawhi Leonard was looking to leave San Antonio (shocker). So like NBA Twitter always does when big news breaks, it went berserk.
Expect the Sixers, Celtics, Lakers and Clippers to be the main four teams pursuing Kawhi Leonard, per sources. Teams with top picks could always jump into the sweepstakes, but the risk would be significant considering Leonard has just one more season left on his contract.
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 15, 2018
— JOSEDIZ_ (@josediaz_1999) June 15, 2018
People are insane is what I’m saying, especially Lakers fans. Lakers fans are dying for Paul George, LeBron, and Kawhi to all go to LA this year, so this news just added fuel to the fire. I have some other ideas for what could happen this off-season, though.
The Inevitable Kawhi Leonard Trade
I see four ways that this could play out.
#1 Kawhi to the Lakers for Kuzma, Ingram, and a future first-rounder
#2 Kawhi to the Clippers for Tobias Harris, Pat Beverly, the 13th pick, and a future first
#3 Kawhi to the Celtics for Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, and next years Memphis pick
#4 Kawhi to the 76ers for Markelle Fultz, RoCo, the 10th pick this year, and a future first
While I’d love to see Kawhi with Ben Simmons and Jojo, I have to say I believe he’ll be in LA… as a Clipper. Gregg Popovich is no fool and could turn guys like Tobias Harris and Patrick Beverly into very good starters, and the two first-rounders will help the future. Furthermore, I believe he has no interest in helping the Lakers return to the playoffs.
Will LeBron Stay or Go?
Rumors of LeBron leaving Cleveland for the Lakers have been moving along for nearly a year now. But that’s not going to happen. Why would LeBron leave the Eastern Conference to join an unproven team that will have to get through the Warriors and Rockets just to make it to the finals. Also, he’d never go down as a Laker great, so what is the point in him going there?
I firmly believe that he is actually just going to stay in Cleveland, but if he were to leave where would he go? Miami.
This is both simple and incredibly complicated. Simple because his family loves Miami, it’s still in the East, and he has a good relationship with the organization. It’s complicated because Miami’s salary situation is a nightmare. As it stands they have $145 on the books for next year. Yikes. So how can they fit him on the books?
Step one, move Tyler Johnson’s $19 million deal. They could easily package him with a first to make a deal more appealing, look for them to talk with Dallas, who has a lot of cap space, and sending him there with a first for Dwight Powell.
Next step, move Kelly Olynyk’s $12 million dollar deal. While that is a decent chunk of change, he is a solid roation player that a handful of teams wouldn’t mind having. Especially if they have the cap-space. That leads us to Indiana, who could use another big. They could send Olynyk there for T.J. Leaf who is on a rookie deal. After those two deals, like that the Heat are down to $125.
This leaves us with the need to move Hassan Whiteside. Easy. The Cavs then sign-and-trade LeBron and get Whiteside in return to fill their needs. The Heat could even sweeten the deal with a couple of second round picks. Just like that, LeBron is back on the Heat.
Paul George’s Decision
The way I see it there are four teams that could reasonably have Paul George on their 2018-2019 roster. The Thunder, the Lakers, the Clippers, and the Rockets. For years George has been linked to both Los Angeles teams, and the Lakers have positioned themselves financially to make a play for him. Problem is, he might not want to play with their current roster. Not to mention, he had a quality year in OKC. If he were to leave I think it would be to a more established team, so if Houston doesn’t resign CP3 he would give them a look. That said, I think he stays with the Thunder.
Chris Paul’s Future
This leads us directly to the Rockets and Chris Paul. CP3 is adamant that he wants a max contract this offseason. If the Rockets were to sign him to that it would be 5-years at about $200 million. Starting at $35 million this season, ending in 2022-2023 at $45 million at age 38. For the first two years of that deal it could be a good one for the Rockets, but by the end it will be a cap nightmare. Ultimately, I think they give this deal to him and try to make a run at the Warriors again.
The problem with this is that two crucial members of last year’s team, Clint Capela and Trevor Ariza, are both poised to be free agents too. Capela is looking at the possibility of getting a 4 year deal worth $80 million. Ariza, who is an excellent rotation player has stated he’d be willing to take a discount to go to the Warriors. The Rockets will essentially have to choose between Capela and Ariza. In the end I think they keep Capela and Paul.
There’s a solid chance that none of these things happen, but no matter what does happen, it will be crazy.