Kawhi Leonard shocked the basketball world today when he abruptly decided to return to the San Antonio Spurs with eyes on a March return. The former NBA Finals MVP has played just nine games this season while squabbling with the team about his quad injury.
Leonard hasn’t said a word in public since January 13th, leaving many to wonder if he even wants to stay in San Antonio. It’s clear there’s a rift between the organization and Leonard – they cleared him, but he feels he’s still injured and not ready to return.
A quick peek at Leonard’s career in San Antonio reveals he’s never played in more than 74 games in a season. Injuries happen … but every year it’s something with Leonard. That may be tough for Gregg Popovich and RC Buford to stomach, given Tim Duncan played in a more physical era and played in 80+ games six times by the time he hit the age of 30.
There’s no question about talent, but perhaps durability. We’re going to give Leonard a $200+ million Supermax deal and he can’t stay healthy?
Nobody is watching the Leonard situation closer than LeBron James. His team fell apart last summer when Kyrie Irving demanded a trade. The best hope to keep LeBron in Cleveland? A superstar becomes unhappy in his situation, and forces a trade.
Kawhi Leonard next to LeBron James, as I speculated in February, would be perhaps the scariest duo in the NBA, yes, right there with Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. Leonard, before this season, was widely considered the best two-way player in the NBA.
The Cavs will be closely monitoring Leonard just as closely as they watch the Brooklyn Nets struggle. The Nets pick and Kevin Love for a get-me-out-of-here Kawhi Leonard is an NBA storyline that would set June on fire.