Report: Kawhi plans to tell teams he's signing in L.A. in 2019
Officially, Kawhi Leonard is still a San Antonio Spur. But, a year out from unrestricted free agency, he reportedly already knows where his next NBA home will be. If he ends up anywhere else in the meantime, it'll just be a brief stopover along the way.
Leonard, a Los Angeles native, wants the Spurs to trade him to a team based in his hometown, and even if they don't grant him his wish, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year plans to tell any other team that tries to trade for him that he'll just sign in L.A. as a free agent in 2019, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.
Leonard reportedly met with Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich on Tuesday, but it's unclear if that meeting affected the motivations or plans for player or team.
Meanwhile, if Leonard indeed does make his free-agent intentions plain, it figures to significantly depress his trade market. Teams that know they can't re-sign him will be hesitant to give up much of value for one season of Leonard's services, while the Lakers and Clippers will be similarly reluctant because they'll expect to be able to sign him next summer without surrendering any assets.
Whichever team acquires Leonard in a trade will also acquire his Bird rights, meaning they can offer him an additional year and higher annual raises on his next contract. But, given that Leonard would already be leaving a potential $219-million supermax from the Spurs on the table, it appears that money is less of an object than the pull of home.