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Is the next Kawhi Leonard already in Boston?
The Boston Celtics have the luxury of patience after spending the years since Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were traded to the Brooklyn Nets retooling themselves into a championship contender.

Boston has three all-stars on their roster in Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Al Horford. They've also got two blooming young prospects that look like they could grow into potential stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

The bench is stacked with quality role players who now have the experience to contribute at the NBA level. And the treasure cove is stacked with a ton of tantalizing options in future drafts.

Regardless, when a star player is unhappy and wants to be traded to a new situation, you do your due diligence and see if you can land them. That's exactly what the Celtics were able to do when it came to landing Irving last summer.

However, after wheeling and dealing fan-favorite Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland a year ago, it looks like Boston might be unwilling to deal one of their top players to land Kawhi Leonard.

Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe reported earlier today that the Celtics are conservative in their talks with the San Antonio Spurs. He also mentioned that Brown has NOT been moved into the conversation.
This is the perfect strategy from Danny Ainge and his staff. The Celtics have absolutely ZERO need to push themselves into contention for Leonard. Boston is stacked with two athletic wings that have improved at a rapid pace and they also have Hayward, who by all accounts should be fully healthy by late July.

Leonard played in nine games last season and essentially alienated himself from his team after deciding to sit out for the second time. It almost seems like his relationship with the Spurs has grown toxic after there were reports that Tony Parker called Leonard out for not playing due to his ailment towards the start of the playoffs. A potential locker room problem is the last thing this group needs after the camaraderie they showed last season.

Plus, the San Diego State product could leave the Celtics for absolutely nothing in 2019. Brown isn't up for extension until 2020 and Tatum isn't until 2021. Hayward has a player option after 2020. Boston will also hold the rights to Brown and Tatum when they enter free agency, allowing them to match any deal ala Marcus Smart.

It simply isn't worth the risk to bring Leonard to Boston if it means the team will give up an all-star or future all-star for possibly just one season. The current roster has a wide timeline of contention and that window would shorten with the addition of Leonard.

The Celtics should only seriously pursue the disgruntled star if it means they don't give up major pieces. Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris, who both hit the open market after 2018, are likely available in a trade. Boston would probably be willing to give up most of their valuable future picks like the Sacramento and Memphis first-rounders if it means landing Leonard without dismantling the current core.

With all the question marks floating around this situation, the Celtics should proceed with caution if they're serious about acquiring Leonard. And who knows? Boston might have the Kawhi Leonard of the future right now in Jaylen Brown.

Picture by Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY

Follow Dustin Lewis on Twitter for more coverage of the Boston Celtics.

Dustin Lewis 6/28/2018 03:55:00 PM Edit
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