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The Boston Celtics may have moved into first place in the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes. Per BetDSI Sportsbook, Boston now has the best odds of any NBA team of having Leonard on their roster to start the season.

The Celtics came in ahead of the Philadelphia 76'ers, Orlando Magic and even Kawhi's current team, the San Antonio Spurs. Even the two Los Angeles destinations come in well behind Boston.

Let me state initially that I am totally against either member of the Jay-Team, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, being involved in any such trade. And any inclusion of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward or Al Horford could easily backfire.

So why are we even discussing this? CelticsLife writer, Justin Quinn, broached the following tweet which opens up some interesting possibilities.


In reviewing the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, as always, I find the language quite vague, which in turn leaves it much more open to interpretation by the League. But I am convinced that a deal can be done without involving the five Celtics players cited above. But it would require patience, time and trust. The above tweet was posted prior to the recent draft, so buying a late first-rounder is out of play.


As Bernardoni states in his tweet, this would be all about salary building by Danny Ainge to make the salary match work, and this could not be done in a day or two. Gregg Popovich does not want Kawhi going to a Western Conference rival and he wants some real value in return.

Tatum and Brown should be out of this discussion, and Irving, Hayward and Horford probably need to be retained because the quintet would make a potent starting five. Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris would most likely be involved as a start to matching Leonard's 20.1 million for this season. The Marcus Smart tug-of-war begins shortly, and if Danny decides to match an offer that exceeds what he sees as reasonable, a sign-and-trade may occur, a move that would not be popular among Celtics fans.

So be on the lookout for some strange moves by Danny Ainge in the coming months. They could be an indicator of salary building with a future move in mind. Creating an enticing trade package not involving Boston's top-5 (or top-6) players is extremely challenging, but Ainge is up to the task. That would make for a powerhouse, at least for one year, at which time both Irving and Leonard could bolt. But the NBA has become a League of unknown factors, and no GM can foresee what will happen too far down the road.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Edward A. Omelas/SA Express News

Tom Lane 6/26/2018 10:26:00 AM Edit
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