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Two things appear certain. The Spurs and Kawhi Leonard are unhappy with each other, and Danny Ainge will be among the NBA executives inquiring about his availability. Why wouldn't he? Leonard is a 26-year-old, two-way superstar in the prime of his career. Teams trading a superstar almost never get equal value back in the deal, and Danny Ainge will never be known as a philanthropic trader. Danny may try for another coup.


Jumping right to the chase, who would Boston send to San Antonio in exchange for Kawhi? First of all, the names of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are always brought up in potential Celtics trades. I feel Tatum is out of the mix entirely, and Brown might be too valuable to let go, at least in this trade scenario. The Spurs are old and they desperately need to infuse some youth. Terry Rozier could start for the Spurs and Al Horford could add talented, veteran leadership.

Horford, Rozier and Marcus Morris for Leonard and Pau Gasol works on the ESPN Trade Machine. Gregg Popovich would also try to finagle Daniel Theis away from us, and most likely a draft pick. Danny will absolutely not give away the farm here. He loves his draft picks and frankly, Daniel and his team-friendly contract are just too dear to let go.


Another realistic option would be Terry, Morris and Marcus Smart (sign-and-trade for 10M) for Leonard. Ainge is stretching for a Title this season, and it will be a tough fight. He is totally focused on next season without sacrificing the future.

Danny Ainge has developed a reputation as a smart river boat gambler who seems to almost win the hands. Popovich is equally as intelligent - is totally respected - and does not want to be embarrassed by a poor trade. He will not be taken advantage of. What I have written does not necessarily represent my personal views but rather what may occur. Remember, the Celtics returned only four players this season from the 2016-17 team. Tatum will not be dealt for Leonard, and Brown's status with Boston is fairly secure unless a better trade (Anthony Davis?) surfaces. Danny is an off-season trader and summer is coming.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Ronald Cortes/Getty Images


Tom Lane 4/05/2018 07:07:00 AM Edit
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