What’s very clear as we’re being flooded with Kawhi Leonard trade rumors every single day is that the Celtics are involved. When a star player wants to be traded, the Celtics are always going to be involved. Simply because they have the assets to essentially acquire any player in the league that they want to.
It’s also pretty clear that the Celtics are not too eager to give up the massive collection of assets for the great unknown that surrounds Kawhi Leonard. There’s no doubt that Kawhi is a Top 5 caliber player in the NBA, even with all the red flags that surrounded him last season. Whether it’s the quad injury that kept him out of basically the entire 2017-18 season, or the quite new hatred he now has for the Spurs organization. Even with those issues, he’s one of those rare talents that teams should be lining up to trade for.
It would usually be a pretty absurd notion to want a team so close to competing for a title to not want to add a player like Leonard. He’s going to make whatever team he joins this summer better. In the Lakers’ case, he’ll probably help them get LeBron James and any other veteran player who wants to chase a ring.
But for the Celtics, well they’re in a position of power right now. They would probably love to add a player like Leonard, but they also wouldn’t be too upset to hang up the phone and hold on to their core of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, not to mention that surplus of future first-round picks, including as many as three next season.
According to The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn, the Celtics have not included Jaylen Brown in their trade talks with the Spurs and are taking a conservative approach to all the madness. That means Jayson Tatum likely isn’t in the discussions either. In all likelihood, it’s either Irving or Terry Rozier with other young players and potentially multiple draft picks that they’re offering up.
— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) June 28, 2018
But again, given Leonard’s quad injury and most importantly his free agency next summer where he will most likely end up in LA, the Celtics aren’t all that interesting in Leonard. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier Thursday that the Spurs love Boston’s assets, but the Celtics aren’t willing to part with them given those red flags:
“The Spurs have long been most intrigued with Boston’s trade assets, but it remains unclear how rich of a package the Celtics are willing to offer without a full understanding of the long-term implications of Leonard’s quad injury, nor an assurance that they can be certain of Leonard’s willingness to consider a long-term commitment next summer, league sources said.”
While the Celtics will continue to be mentioned in the Leonard rumors and probably any star that becomes available for the next five years, don’t expect them to land Kawhi. Danny Ainge will keep checking in to see if the price has gone down, or perhaps to make the price go up for his rivals, but he’s one of the best executives in the NBA for a reason. He knows the Celtics have a great thing at the moment. They can sit back and do nothing this offseason and still feel great about the present and the future, with both Irving and Hayward returning from injury. They can feel even better about the future with Brown and Tatum. The sum of all those parts will make the Celtics among the favorites in the East for years to come.
Danny Ainge will not deal away all of that promise just for one season of a great player, no matter how great that player may be (Yes, even if it’s LeBron). Why win one championship when you can win three?