The Kawhi Leonard drama is nearly at the end of the line. He asked and he has received. It’s almost Biblical. But like Biblical hurricanes and floods, Kawhi Leonard the San Antonio Spur has been washed away except for the the Defensive Player of the Year(s), the Finals MVP awards.
San Antonio did what Kawhi wanted and they did what Kawhi didn’t want. They gave him his walking papers. He is away from Texas, in another country. He wanted out. He got it, baby.
Kawhi and the group of amateurs who are running interference in the Kawhi career made mistake number one by choosing a team he wanted to be traded to and yelling it from the rooftops. Their LaVar Ball strategy crashed and burned.
Last year, when Kyrie Irving wanted out he never said oh by the way trade me to the Knicks. He knew he had zero leverage because he was under contract. All he needed was patience. When all signs pointed to a Kyrie to Phoenix deal, he called his Yoda in Laguna Beach and asked Kobe Bryant how to handle it. He was cool with going wherever. He just wanted out.
When Shaquille O’Neal wanted out he didn’t say send me to Miami. He just said trade me and the Lakers tried to send him to a team that was playoff relevant. Shaq had done a lot for them. As long as it was in the east, they were cool.
Where Leonard made his first blunder was telling the Spurs where to trade him. He burned the house down and he expected generosity on their part? Please.
First, he had no leverage. Second, he overestimated the Lakers desperation and that they would sell the farm to get him. They didn’t. Once LeBron James was in house, the Lakers weren’t Kawhi needy. They were willing to be buyers not sellers.
What Kawhi should have done was to ask out ala Paul George and then say he wasn’t signing an extension. He may have ended somewhere that wasn’t Canada. But Leonard thought he had leverage when he didn’t. He thought like a star, not like someone under contract.
The Spurs were going to screw him and while they were at it, get something in return. Regardless of the DeRozan crying memes, DeRozan keeps San Antonio in the playoff hunt. They aren’t contenders because DeRozan can’t be the best player on a contending team, but he will drop 20+ points, make the other team defend him, and will have superlative games.
Kawhi is now the best player in the east if he is the old Kawhi. But if he is injured banged up Kawhi, or if he is moody I don’t want to be here Kawhi, then the Raptors swung on a 3-2 fastball, made contact, beat out an infield single but ultimately it doesn’t change anything.
There is something about this entire scenario that is comical. A few years ago, Leonard was the model player. Quiet. Unassuming. Driving a beat up car. Driven and a workaholic. He was called a throwback to how NBA players used to be. He wasn’t on social media. He didn’t care if he was loved or hated. He was the anti-selfish NBA player. Kobe or LeBron or Dwight Howard or Durant or whoever you think curries attention on their terms and doesn’t want to deal with anyone else’s terms, that wasn’t Kawhi. Turns out that was Kawhi. He was more selfish than all of them. The total opposite of the walking in Tim Duncan’s footsteps. His halo has been crushed.
If you want to be in California, Toronto, which is a lively woke city, is far from second best. It’s winter is no joke but the fans are ridiculous, the atmosphere is a NBA player’s dream. Drake trolls the opponents. It’s lit. For real. Except for the taxes and it is Canada. It’s Canada. If Kawhi gets out of his I don’t want to be there feelings, the Raptors may have something something. Leonard healthy is a dominant talent.
It’s not polite to grade a divorce but I’ll do it anyway. July: Spurs 1. Angry Kawhi 0.
May: Healthy Kawhi 1. Beaten in the playoffs Spurs 0.