Kawhi Leonard might participate in Popovich-led USA Basketball camp to showcase health for trade, report says
Things could get a little awkward in Las Vegas for the disgruntled Spurs star and his coach
UPDATE: Spurs and Raptorsthat would send Kawhi Leonard to Toronto in a deal including DeMar DeRozan, per report.
We haven't seen Kawhi Leonard play basketball since January -- in fact, we haven't really seen him at all since then. But we could get a look at him soon, as Leonard is seriously considering participating in USA Basketball minicamp in Las Vegas next week, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Spurs All-Star requested a trade earlier this summer, but teams have reportedly been reluctant to make large offers for Leonard, partly due to the mystery surrounding his quad injury. The USA Basketball camp could show teams that he is ready to get back to his old form, and consequently heat up the trade market. Via ESPN:
Among NBA teams and USA Basketball officials, there is a belief that Leonard wants to participate in the camp, but could be dissuaded based on ancillary concerns.
Leonard holds some enthusiasm for showcasing his revitalized health in the wake of the quad injury that has been at the center of discord between the Spurs and him, sources said. The question being debated, sources said, is whether participating in the Team USA camp will ignite trade talks that deliver him to his preferred destination -- the Lakers -- or give the Spurs more cause to hold on to Leonard and push him to report to training camp in September.
One thing that may make things a bit awkward: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is the coach of the national team, and will lead the camp.
Popovich is about as professional as they come, so it's hard to imagine him carrying some sort of personal grudge, if Leonard does participate. On the contrary, Popovich could actually use the time to try to get some one-on-one conversations with Leonard, whosince leaving the team last season to rehab on his own in New York.
Perhaps Popovich can help reason with Leonard, like he said he did with LaMarcus Aldridge, and convince him to stay in San Antonio. Another carrot that could entice Leonard back is the five-year, $221 million supermax contract the Spurs could offer him, but there have been no reports of the team making any such offer as of yet.
According to ESPN, Leonard still has his heart set on playing for the Lakers, but the Spurs have also talked with the Clippers, Nuggets, Suns, Trail Blazers, Raptors and Wizards. With the Spurs apparently in no hurry to deal their star, this process could drag out for the rest of the summer, and possibly into next season.
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