Writer: Marcus Carr
The San Antonio Spurs are known as one of the few organizations who over time has continuously taken care of their players at a high standard whether that be, starting the wave of resting star players throughout the season, or giving the player a few extra days coming off an injury to regain confidence. But today, Adrian Wojnarowski and Michael Wright broke that sources believe “ A right quadriceps injury have had a chilling impact on San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard’s relationship with the franchise and coaching staff.” While none of this was confirmed by GM RC Buford, sources have described the relationship between Kawhi and the organization “distant and disconnected.”
Kawhi Leonard has only played nine games in the 2017-2018, dealing with the right quadriceps injury and a left shoulder strain. It seems as if the right quadriceps injury is back, the organization has shut him down indefinitely. With the injury being a major concern for the organization, they should also be worried about the possibility that Kawhi could leave the organization in 2019.
If the relationship is indeed “distant and disconnected” it could affect the talks of Kawhi’s contract extension talks which are in effect this summer where San Antonio could offer him a 5 year $217 million deal, that would start in the 2019-2020 season. We have never seen the Spurs be the team that throw lucrative deals at their players, but usually convince the players to take a lesser deal and value assets and winning instead. With this also being the case with Kawhi, how willingly would he be to take less money even if the Spurs went and traded for Kemba Walker or sent LaMarcus Aldridge and received more assets. And does adding Kemba Walker push the needle past the Houston Rockets or Golden State Warriors? No. With the strong possibility that Lebron leaves Cleveland this off season and could be heading to the Western Conference, would it be crazy for Kawhi to consider moving to a team in the East or teaming up with Lebron in California?
Kawhi shares a lot of characteristics with another star of the NBA who left a city who deeply loved him, Kevin Durant. A quiet, charismatic star who was always put second until they won MVP, granted Kevin Durant won league MVP and Kawhi won Finals MVP, but the level of significance is equivalent. Kawhi has become the so called ‘good guy” that Durant once was, the humble superstar who loves the city that loves him, but not all stories end in happily ever after. The resemblance in these two are too similar for Spurs fans or the organization to feel comfortable.
Kawhi could easily go join Lebron in California in 2019, he was born in Los Angeles, he went to highschool at King High School in Riverside, California, he attended San Diego State University, so the possibility of him heading back to his home state, to play in front of his family and friends might be too good of an opportunity to pass up.
While Spurs fans could try to debunk all of the possibilities of him leaving, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili both look like they could retire in the 2018-2019 season or as soon as the end of this season, all possibilities should be accounted for, the team could be in rebuild state in 2018-2019 which gives Kawhi every reason to leave entering the years of his prime. But at the end of the day, the Spurs will be the Spurs.