But there are so many problems with actuating Kawhi’s demands.
First and foremost, Gregg Popovich will have to bow to Leonard’s wishes. And that’s not how things work in San Antonio. Popovich runs the show — he doesn’t let disgruntled players dictate anything.
By making it clear Leonard wants out, he has also effectively killed his trade value. Everyone knows he wants to leave, which gives the Spurs little leverage in negotiations. What’s more, Leonard comes out of the situation looking like a bad teammate. If he can’t thrive in San Antonio under the NBA’s best coach, why would anyone think things will work out anywhere else? And finally, he’s coming off a mysterious injury (the point of contention between the Spurs and Kawhi), which makes him less desirable.
If Popovich doesn’t want to trade Kawhi, he’ll have to accept a deal beneath Leonard’s market value. And again, that’s not how things work in San Antonio. The Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and countless other teams will be calling with offers Popovich probably deems unacceptable.
Leonard and Popovich will be stuck to make the most of a bad situation. The stubborn and inflexible duo are headed for an awkward offseason. The situation will sort itself out — likely with Kawhi getting traded. He’s too talented for a team to eventually provide a reasonable offer. But Popovich isn’t getting fleeced. He and Leonard are going to have to wait until that reasonable offer crosses Pop’s desk.