Kawhi Leonard trade wasn't right move for Celtics


BOSTON – Reports are starting to surface that Kawhi Leonard may in fact be “open” to re-signing with the Toronto Raptors when he hits free agency next summer and not necessarily be L.A.-bound.

With that, some have pondered the idea that maybe if the Boston Celtics tried a little harder to acquire him, maybe he would be “open” to staying in Boston long-term as well.

I love Kawhi Leonard’s game.

Just about anyone who loves basketball, loves Kawhi Leonard’s game.

But Danny Ainge was spot-on in not aggressively pursuing Leonard when he demanded a trade from San Antonio this summer.

Talks between Boston and San Antonio began with the Spurs wanting a package that included Jayson Tatum.

There wasn’t much to talk about afterward.

The issue wasn’t whether Ainge thought Jayson Tatum was a better player or will be a better player in time, than Leonard.

The problem is no one knows for sure whether the issues that led to Leonard missing most of last season and having a major fall-out from arguably the most stable, well-run franchise in the NBA, would quickly become problems of the past or whether they were just the beginning of bigger headaches down the road.

You don't typically give up major assets with those kinds of issues floating around.

Ainge has never been shy about rolling the dice on a player with some questionable qualities/characteristics/concerns, but this Celtics team as they are built now are just too close to competing for a title to make such a high-risk/high-reward deal.

And think about this for a second.

The Raptors will only have Leonard for one full season, and the cost of that one season was a trade package that included DeMar DeRozan, Toronto's all-time leading scorer who just turned 29 years old earlier this month.

With Leonard’s questionable health, uncertain future contract-wise (he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer) and the current state of the Celtics as the best team in the East without Leonard, “trying harder” to land him would have meant including Tatum in a deal.

That’s a gamble that didn’t make sense at the time for Boston to take.

Looking at where Leonard is now “open” to the possibility of staying in Toronto, Boston would be in the same spot Toronto is now, wondering if they gave away too much for a player whose game has far more questions than answers right now.


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