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With 15 days until the NBA trade deadline, another possible option for the Boston Celtics has surfaced. There is a rift between Spurs superstar, Kawhi Leonard, and the San Antonio organization.


Please follow along with whatever logic I can muster as I write this early in the morning. The Spurs 31-18 record ranks sixth overall and fourth in the Western Conference. They have accomplished that with Kawhi out with a quad injury for most of the season. They are a very old team. Manu Ginobli and Pau Gasol are the real codgers at 40 and 37, respectively. Tony Parker, LeMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green are all past 30.

The Spurs definitely need a youth movement that will bring some talented, young players into their ranks. That is where the Celtics enter the picture. Stay with me, and I will start with Boston's own first-round pick this year, destined to end up in the late-20's, just where the Spurs have shown they can grab a player and turn him into a star. Boston is well aware of Parker being chosen 28th in the 2001 draft after the Celtics blundered by taking the immortal Joseph Forte 21st. Ginobli was taken by San Antonio 57th overall in the 1999 draft. Here is additional information via InternationalBusinessTimes' Bobby Ilich:

San Antonio may now be facing questions about what to do with Leonard as the Feb. 8 trade deadline approaches. The Spurs have a more-than-respectable 30-18 record with just a 5-4 record with Leonard in the lineup. The front office may feel they can receive quality players in return for a two-time All-Star.

R.C. Buford, considered one of the league's shrewdest general managers, may see the perceived tension between Leonard and the Spurs as an opportunity to upgrade the roster. Dealing Leonard, and perhaps others, at the deadline might allow Buford to find add some much-needed youth to the roster. Earlier this month, Popovich revealed that LaMarcus Aldridge, who is 32 years old, requested a trade in the summer.

I doubt San Antonio would do a total rebuild at this point. There is no need. Their record ranks 6th in the NBA, and they are always in the Title mix. They wouldn't discount Al Horford being placed into trade discussions, but Boston should avoid it. Al has too much value for Boston to let him go. In the ESPN Trade Machine, trading Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris and Semi Ojeleye for Kawhi Leonard works. Adding Boston's own first-rounder this year adds more appeal for the Spurs.

San Antonio would most likely prefer Jayson Tatum, but I believe Danny Ainge would try desperately to avoid that. Either Tatum or Brown would almost certainly have to be involved for the trade to happen. Last night's 114-102 win by the Spurs over the Cavaliers says a lot about San Antonio's future.

Point guard, Dejounte Murray - 29th pick in the 2016 draft, started the game and scored 19 points while adding 10 rebounds, three assists and seven steals. Center Davis Bertans, chosen 42nd in the 2011 draft and traded to SA, also started and has 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal.


Kawhi Leonard is a superior player. Celtics boss Danny Ainge has stated that he wants "great players". Kawhi is that. Danny may visualize a lineup of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and Kawhi Leonard filled out by quality, vet-minimum role players and end-of-the-benchers, if he can make the future salaries work. Kawhi earns $18.9 million this season, $20 million next year and has a player option for the 2019-20 season.

I have been questioning the signing of Jarell Eddie to a 10-day contract and the Maine Red Claws trading for Anthony Bennett. Those moves didn't seem to make sense. They might now. Retaining Eddie and signing Bennett as end-of-the-bench guys would make sense if Boston sent several current players away in a trade.

A final Boston/San Antonio trade, if it occurs, may look quite different than what I have written, and a third team may have to be included to make it work. The Spurs would not be sending Leonard to a Western Conference rival, and it seems that whatever move they make, or don't make, they always remain in the Title fight. There are 15 days to the deadline. Pleanty of time for something to happen.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports

Tom Lane 1/24/2018 07:08:00 AM Edit
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