DJT Jumpshot Mailbag: Potential, Kawhi Leonard, and Houston

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DJT Jumpshot Mailbag: Potential, Kawhi Leonard, and Houston
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Kawhi Debacle

The first fan-submitted question on this edition of the DJT Jumpshot Mailbag comes from Michael W. via email, which reads:

"“My San Antonio Spurs are at a huge disadvantage this offseason. Multiple contracts, key veterans, and the coaching system are all at a risk. But the most important player in all is Kawhi Leonard, as you very well know. Do you think he goes to the Lakers, or does he stay put in San Antonio? In what directions should both of these teams take this offseason?”"

This is a fair question. In recent news, Gregg Popovich witnessed his wife’s death midway through the first round of the playoffs against a Steph Curry-less Warriors. His return is a huge question mark.

Most of the team’s veterans, including long-time Spur Tony Parker, are free agents. Even their developing starting small forward, Kyle Anderson, could walk away from San Antonio. Many teams could use his versatility as a wing on the defensive side of the ball.

Most importantly, at the heart of the current Spurs is Kawhi Leonard, Finals MVP, Olympic Gold Medalist, and [before] dubbed the title of the best two-way player in the NBA.

This season, however, was a strange one for him. His “agent/uncle group” kept him sidelined after a rejection of a Jordan contract. Gregg Popovich could not make of his quadriceps injury, reportedly being worse than Tony Parker’s.

After appearing in nine games total, Kawhi Leonard never showed up for the Spurs again this year, at the heartbreak of San Antonio fans around the world. The main question is not going to be placed on Los Angeles, but rather S.A. GM R.C. Buford’s handling of his contract. Bobby Marks of ESPN best explains his options here:

  1. Sign Leonard to a five-year extension with a starting salary of $37.8 million in 2019-20 and one that averages $43.8 million over the length of the contract [amounting to $219 million]. The extension would carry a no-trade clause for one year from the date the contract was signed.
  2. Sign Leonard to the same extension but put language in the contract that protects the Spurs if he misses games because of his current injury. This would be similar to the Joel Embiid contract in Philadelphia.
  3. Table extension talks and brings Leonard back on an expiring contract with the goal of repairing a broken relationship.
  4. Explore trade packages.

Buford will do anything to keep him in San Antonio. For a player who already seems so disconnected from the franchise, unfortunately for the Spurs, the saga of Kawhi might continue in a uniform of purple and gold.

This, of course, heavily depends on the development of said players and the Lakers’ 2018 offseason signings. Only time will tell if Leonard’s relationship with the Spurs breaks apart from the seams.