Five Completely Off The Wall, Contrarian Trades Involving Kawhi Leonard
The Kawhi Leonard saga has begun, and with the Spurs being forced to trade Kawhi, there are many that believe that a Brandon Ingram led package is enough to get it done. While Kawhi wants to go to Los Angeles, there are still other options out there that make sense for the Spurs to keep themselves competitive in the Western Conference rather than giving into Kawhi's desires which they have no obligation to fulfill.
While it can be scary to think of some of the following teams trading for Kawhi with the possibility that he opts out after a year, sometimes winning for a year is worth the risk, and hoping that the winning can convince Kawhi to stay.
This trade makes a decent amount of sense for both teams. The Spurs reunite Lillard and Aldridge, free up eight million in cap space with the Gasol salary dump, and if Tony Parker leaves or retires, that frees up another 15 million. That would leave the Spurs with a few very simple transactions away from being able to throw the kitchen sink at someone like a LeBron James, Paul George or Demarcus Cousins.
It also fits for the Blazers as well because after getting swept, perhaps it is time to shake up that team and maybe focus less on isolation heavy basketball from the backcourt. A Mills-CJ-Kawhi-Aminu-Nurkic lineup could do a lot of damage in the NBA playoffs.
Miami would also throw in a 2019 first round pick.
I think this trade would be interesting for both teams. Miami desperately needed a superstar in the playoffs, and Kawhi Leonard would be that guy for them. The Heat have so many solid assets that I think this trade would surround some of those assets with a superstar. Though they would be parting away with a starting point guard, I think Miami could find someone for cheap on the market to replace Goran Dragic. With a healthy Dion Waiters, James Johnson and another season of Dwyane Wade, this trade would give Miami a different dynamic. I believe they would have to sign some more assets to replace the guys they have lost, but I think this trade would give Miami some hope again to be competitive in the Eastern conference.
As weird as this feels to say given that there is no star power returning for the Spurs, I would be really excited about this from their side of things. Not only do they get a significantly better point guard, but you get two elite defenders who flash upside offensively on a regular basis. Winslow had a career shooting year, while Richardson was a reliable guy to play over 36 minutes a night and lock down anyone from the 1-3 position.
Richardson is only 24 while Winslow is 22, and I think they'd be fantastic in a Spurs uniform. Furthermore, Goran Dragic is the perfect point guard for Greg Popovich's system as he can run the offense like Tony Parker used to and he can be on the floor with Dejounte Murray as a shooting guard, very capable of playing off ball for long stretches of games.
New Orleans also trades a 2019 first round pick.
This trade would be an interesting one as the Spurs are locking themselves into Jrue Holiday long term and basically trying to win now, by trading talent for talent. Ordinarily when you trade the best player, it's hard to justify a trade, but Jrue Holiday was absolutely terrific last season and in the playoffs he averaged 24 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists, while completely haunting the nightmares of Damian Lillard. The Spurs would also get Nikola Mirotic, who showed incredible offensive ability in New Orleans, as well as a proof that he can rebound when put in the role, as he averaged 15 points, 9.5 rebounds, and over a block and a steal in the playoffs. Mirotic is an underrated player and though he just found a home in New Orleans, I think playing in San Antonio would also bring the best out in him.
On the flip side, how fun would a Kawhi, Anthony Davis and maybe Boogie trio be. I'll let you guys think about that for a little while! I don't think that needs much of a sales pitch!
The Clippers would throw in one of their two 2018 1st round picks.
Bring Boban home! Oh, and Tobias Harris, who averaged a very respectable 19 points per game, while shooting over 40% on 3 pointers for the first time in his career. Tobias has a very underrated ability to just be a pure scorer, and though he will never be in the same breath as Kawhi defensively, an efficient 19 points per game on a widespread offence is nothing to scoff at. If you increase his usage rate on the Spurs, he could accomplish quite a bit.
While I put Boban in this to make me happy, this trade can also work with Patrick Beverley or Milos Teodosic thrown in, but I figured Spurs fans would be happy with their gentle giant, who happens to legitimately be third in NBA history in PER behind MJ and LeBron, returning home.
Boston would also throw in their first round pick (Not the Kings one).
Wouldn't this trade be really fun! The Celtics are at a point right now where they can afford to pay a lot, and still have perfect insurance waiting in the background. With Kyrie Irving gone, Terry Rozier stepped up and played like a borderline elite point guard, and Marcus Smart is an excellent backup. While Kyrie is still an incredible talent, he is more expendable given the fact that Kawhi Leonard is on the market and would probably put the Celtics over the top. Also Brad Stevens will wave his magic wand and Bryn Forbes shooting ability will shine like it never has if he gets the chance to play minutes in Boston.
The Spurs will get their best point guard they've had since Tony Parker in his prime, who happens to only be 25 years old, and they'll receive Marcus Morris, who is a more than adequate guy they can throw in the starting five. Morris did once say that only Kawhi is better at stopping LeBron, and he did a terrific job on him in the playoffs. While it's an obvious downgrade, getting back Kyrie and a homeless man's Kawhi on both ends of the court (Which doesn't intend to imply that he is useless by any means) makes this trade an intriguing one for the Spurs.
Where do you guys think he is landing? Leave your thoughts in the comments!