SAN ANTONIO – While many San Antonio Spurs fans are hoping superstar Kawhi Leonard makes a comeback sometime this season, some NBA general managers are already licking their chops for the possibility of trading for Leonard in the offseason.
On Monday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst shared on the network’s "Outside the Lines" show on what he’s hearing from several general managers about Leonard’s future with the Spurs.
“I have already talked to several NBA general managers. At the end of this season, teams will call the Spurs and inquire about the availability of Kawhi Leonard,” Windhorst said. “And the fact that would even happen is a dramatic shift that none of us would have foreseen coming.”
Despite not having great communication between the Spurs and Leonard’s camp this season, Windhorst said that he still believes Kawhi’s future remains in a silver and black uniform.
“I still believe (that) with the Spurs track record and the kind of player and the kind of career that Kawhi wants and the kind of money that’s at stake, I still believe the most likely scenario is he signs an extension and stays a Spurs long term,” Windhorst said.
ESPN senior writer Zach Lowe confirmed Windhorst’s report on his Twitter account, sharing, “This is 100% true. Vultures are circling, in hopes of action around the (NBA) draft” on June 21.
Not that Windy needs any confirmation, ever, but this is 100% true. Vultures are circling, in hopes of action around the draft. https://t.co/Osp4WLofgv— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) April 3, 2018
Leonard, who is under contract with the Spurs until the 2019-20 season, can become a free agent if he decides to exercise his player option in his final year.
However, only the Spurs can offer Kawhi a five-year, super-max contract extension this summer worth more than $200 million.
According to RealGM, Leonard would be unable to sign a max contract at 35 percent of the cap if he decides to walk away from the Spurs.
On Saturday, reports from ESPN NBA insiders Adrian Wojnarowski and Mike Wright surfaced about Kawhi returning to New York to continue his rehabilitation for his lingering right quad injury.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said Kawhi’s return is up to his group.
"I don't know when he's going to feel; he and his group are going to feel like they're ready to go," Popovich said Sunday before a game against Houston. "If I knew, he'd be here. When he and his group feel he's ready, he'll be ready."