Alford: Sixers should be wary of Kawhi Leonard trade

King A trade for Kawhi Leonard is a gamble worth taking for the Celtics

Chris Haynes of ESPN set the basketball world ablaze with a report that Kawhi Leonard wants to be traded by the San Antonio Spurs. Playing only nine games, Leonard went down again which would end up being his final game played in the season because of a thigh injury.

Leonard is due just over $20 million next season, and can become a free agent in the summer of 2019. Needless to say this will be one of the most watched storylines of the summer as acquiring him would be the huge move the Lakers need to get to the next level. Kevin Love, who will make $24.1M next season with a player option close to $25.6M for 2019/20, would be useful for salary-matching purposes, but San Antonio seems more interested in acquiring young talent than an established player like Love. He has a couple of players that he could trade to San Antonio like Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Julius Randle, or Kyle Kuzma.

According to one source, the Spurs may have made a misstep when they made public that they had medically cleared Leonard to play, but he was still sitting out.

The latest reports offer strong support of that indication, as Leonard and San Antonio appear to have burned a bridge that can't be repaired.

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Marks had the Sixers giving up Robert Covington, Markelle Fultz, and the No. 10 pick in the draft in exchange for Leonard and Derrick White. Jayson Tatum is presumably off the table, but a package consisting of Jaylen Brown and two of Boston's four first-round selections in next year's draft would be a better deal for the Spurs than basically anything else that might be on the table.

The Spurs-Leonard fallout is one of the wildest in recent memory, with a lingering right-quadriceps injury and confusion over how to rehab it driving a wedge between the two sides during the season.

It will be interesting to see what type of reception Leonard gets when he suits up for a new team and returns to AT&T Center. Sending Kawhi off to work under James Dolan would also fulfill any potential desire for revenge that might rest in R.C. Buford's heart. The Grizzlies will most likely be sellers at the trade deadline this year and could move Leonard, if they so chose, and perhaps get a haul of draft picks or multiple assets.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported in June that Leonard and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich would meet to try to fix the relationship.

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