The San Antonio Spurs are worried that Kawhi Leonard's handlers are trying to fray his relationship with the organization to get the former NBA Finals MVP traded to a larger market such as Los Angeles, New York, or Philadelphia, sources told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Michael C. Wright.
Leonard was limited to just nine games all season due to a severe quad injury. Rumors of dissent between the star and the team have been percolating since January. In March, coach Gregg Popovich said his rehabilitation schedule would be dictated by his own doctors and not those of the Spurs.
Leonard was treated in New York by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jonathan Glashow, who has a professional affiliation with the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN.
Popovich's references since to Leonard's "group" are a "manifestation of the tension" between the Spurs and Leonard's agent Mitch Frankel and uncle Dennis Robertson, according to ESPN, which also cited a source who claimed Spurs GM R.C. Buford is "constantly losing sleep" over the deterioration of the relationship.
The 26-year-old last played a game on Jan. 13. The Spurs can offer him a supermax extension this summer, and, failing that, he would likely be put on the trade block. His existing contract has a player option for the 2019-20 season.