In the aftermath of the Kawhi Leonard trade, many prominent voices within the San Antonio Spurs organization regretted the deterioration of the franchise’s relationship with its superstar player. However, with the news tonight that Leonard has signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Spurs now know conclusively what they suspected all along: there was nothing they could have done.
While fingers were never pointed publicly after San Antonio traded Leonard to the Toronto Raptors, the Spurs quietly wondered whether more could have been done. If certain relationships with individuals close to Leonard were tended to more closely, would it have changed the outcome? If the Spurs had agreed to bend over backwards more than they’ve ever had before, would Leonard have wanted to stay in San Antonio?
With Leonard landing in Los Angeles, the Spurs might not feel completely vindicated but there’s at least a sense of understanding. This was always bound to happen.
Kawhi Leonard’s Interest In Los Angeles Is Nothing New
As long ago as the summer of 2014, the Spurs knew that forces close to Leonard wanted to steer him to Los Angeles. In fact, a source close to the situation relays that the Spurs were unsure if Leonard would sign the maximum contract offered to him in 2015. It wasn’t known outside of San Antonio at the time but a divorce was a distinct possibility before Leonard had even fully developed into a superstar.
After Leonard was traded to the Raptors, the Spurs watched as Toronto did everything in their powers to satisfy Leonard and those close to him. Every wish and accommodation was granted. From courtside tickets for family members to a say in personnel moves to complete control over his health management, the Raptors were amenable to it all. The red carpet they were willing to unroll for Leonard had no end. Toronto even won an NBA championship along the way.
But after it was all said and done, it didn’t matter. Leonard and those close to him wanted a return to Southern California all along. They told San Antonio just that multiple times throughout the years. Tonight, their wish has become reality.
The Raptors, in retrospect, couldn’t have done enough to keep Leonard in Toronto. It simply was an impossibility.
The Spurs, too, were helpless. Nothing they could have done would have stopped Leonard from going to Los Angeles. It wasn’t obvious to everyone within the Spurs organization at the time, but it is now. For that reason, San Antonio is resting easier tonight.