After all of the events this season, it seems inevitable that Kawhi Leonard will be on another NBA team by the start of the 2018-19 season. Not only has the media been reporting on locker room issues throughout the 17-18 season, but now NBA GMs have been quoted on saying that Leonard is as good as gone.
It only makes sense that the Spurs would trade him for something before he’s able to walk away for nothing in Free Agency. Here are the best trade ideas for Leonard:
Atlanta Receives: Kawhi Leonard, Pau Gasol, Danny Green
San Antonio Receives: Kent Bazemore, Miles Plumlee, 2018 1st Round Pick, 2018 2nd Round Pick, 2019 1st Round Pick
Resultant Atlanta Depth:
C – Dewayne Dedmon, Pau Gasol, Okaro White
PF – John Collins, Mike Muscala
SF – Kawhi Leonard, Taurean Prince, Damion Lee
SG – Danny Green, DeAndre Bembry, Tyler Dorsey
PG – Dennis Schroeder, Malcolm Delaney
Why Atlanta does this trade:
That roster above can be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. Dennis Schroeder scored at a high volume at an efficient enough clip to be the primary source of back court offense for this team, while Leonard shoulders the overall scoring load. John Collins was very promising his rookie season, and after averaging 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds with 5.4 win shares as a rookie, there is no reason he couldn’t operate as a third option for this team. Dewayne Dedmon has proven himself a capable rim protector, and it was only the season before this that he finished with 5.2 win shares. Having Danny Green as a glue guy capable of knocking down threes and defending the premier opposing perimeter player really solidifies this line-up.
Off the bench, Pau Gasol, Mike Muscala, Taurean Prince, DeAndre Bembry, and Malcolm Delaney is a group that has veterans and younger guys, and offensive and defensive talent. This is before any free agents Atlanta might sign as well. If they were to acquire a premier veteran guard, Atlanta could definitely be looking at being a six seed in the East or higher.
Resultant San Antonio Depth:
C – Marvin Bagley, Miles Plumlee, Joffrey Lauvergne
SF – Kyle Anderson, Rudy Gay, Bryn Forbes
SG – Kent Bazemore, Derrick White
Why San Antonio does this trade:
Getting what is likely to be a top four pick is huge for a Spurs team that didn’t have much young talent last season. Bagley, DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Mo Bamba – among those big men, one of them is going to be available wherever the Hawks draft pick ends up falling. With a big like one of those guys, San Antonio can acquire an offensively capable center it hasn’t had since Tim Duncan retired in 2016.
Obviously, nobody a team like Atlanta gives back to San Antonio is going to replace Kawhi Leonard’s production, but Kent Bazemore can at least replicate the defensive energy to Leonard’s game. Bazemore is a journeyman turned starter who can knock down threes and play both wing positions. Last season he averaged 12.9 points per game on 39.4% from three. Not too shabby. With the additional production from the high draft pick and Bazemore, there is no reason San Antonio couldn’t go back to winning 50 games and grow with an overall younger core.
italics = Unrestricted Free Agent