Kawhi Leonard

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The Bizarre Saga Of Kawhi Leonard

Part of the what makes this story so beautifully weird, is that neither the Spurs nor Leonard ever say jack.

July 06, 2018 - 9:46 am

The NBA offseason is greatest offseason and there is absolutely nothing else that’s close. Think of all the great stories from over the years – the DeAndre Jordan emoji fest slash hostage situation is legendary, but since last year we’ve seen: Chris Paul traded to Houston, Paul George traded to OKC, Melo traded to OKC, Kyrie Irving traded to Boston, Paul George stay in OKC, LeBron go to Los Angeles, and the annual move of Dwight Howard. Nothing’s better. Nothing. And there’s even more. 

But none of those moves can touch the bizarre saga of Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs. Part of the what makes this story so beautifully weird, and as always, weird is awesome…. is that neither the Spurs nor Leonard ever say jack. Both sides are mime-like in that regard, so it’s nearly impossible to decipher exactly what’s going on. It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not, and who’s the bad guy and who’s not. Did the Spurs screw this up by damaging the relationship with Kawhi over his medical situation? Or are Kawhi and his team shooting dirty pool?

Well, friend of the show Tom Haberstroh, had ESPN Spurs reporter Michael C Wright on the Back to Back podcast, and some of the intel that were dropped was gold. Like this one from Wright, about where Kawhi wants to play. Hint – it’s still Los Angeles, just not quite where you might be thinking.

"The Lakers are not Kawhi's preferred destination anymore. He wants to go to the Clippers. Because he doesn't want to go and be second fiddle to LeBron. That's what I was told. I was told by somebody that would know. So right now the Clippers are where he wants to go. But I'm also told—I talked to people within the Spurs organization—and they're like, 'Yeah he wants to go to the Clippers, but their assets are bleep at this point.'"  

Uhhhh, okay. Let me see if that have this straight. So Kawhi doesn’t want to go to Los Angeles and be second fiddle to LeBron, Fine, but he’s willing to go to the team that is the very definition of second fiddle. The L.A. Clippers. That doesn’t’ make any sense.  Nor does the notion, he’d rather play with Wesley Johnson than LeBron.

So he will go to the team that is, sadly, the very definition of second fiddle – the Clippers. 

I know Lob City changed a lot of minds for a period of time, but the Clippers aren’t the Lakers. And if Kawhi is thinking that he’ll get the same shine as the face of the Clippers as he would contending for a title with LeBron, my dude is in for a hell of a rude awakening. Then again, at this point, Kawhi is an even tougher read than LeBron himself.

I mean, would rather the man everyone is looking at getting your grub on at Applebees…or living large with another celebrity in the house at Morton’s. 

From a publicity and hype standpoint, the second fiddle on a championship Lakers team is the whole damn orchestra compared to the first fiddle of the Clippers. And it’s not like it’s going to be like that forever, either. While it may not seem like it, LeBron is going to age out. And maybe sooner than later. 

And if LeBron is competing for rings with the Lakers and you’re competing for a playoff spot with the Clippers, yeah, you’re in Los Angeles, technically, but you’re not really in Los Angeles. 

It’s like being in Azusa or West Covina. Yeah, it’s easier to say you’re in Los Angeles than to get into the details of the San Gabriel Valley region and can see the downtown skyline if you drive a little, but you are not really in Los Angeles.  

And that bizarre logic wasn’t the strangest thing that Wright had to say on the podcast. There was this gem as well:

"There was a point during [Kawhi's] rehab process in New York that some of the Spurs brass went out to see him in New York. As soon as those guys arrived to the building, Kawhi's people grabbed him and sequestered him to another part of the building. And so the Spurs' people couldn't even see him.”

Hold up – what?!? The Spurs come to check on their franchise player and see how his rehab is going  since he decided to do it away from the team and Kawhi’s people hide him somewhere in the building? From the team paying him. They hid the guy??? Hid him from who? Hid him from what? What did he think the Spurs were going to do? Kidnap him?

I mean, if this is true, it’s one of the weirdest and most absurd things I’ve ever heard in one of the weirdest most absurd stories I have ever heard. 

Why the. Hell would you hide Kawhi somewhere else in the building when the team came to check on him? Exactly what do you have to hide? Were they hiding from Tony Parker because of the mean things he said. Or hiding from Pop because he said you’ll have to ask Kawhi’s group what’s going on? Did they think the Spurs were there for a game of New York City hide and seek and would just looking for their sport. Were they going to then go double or nothing on a game of Marco Polo. 

Did they think the Spurs were going to stuff Kawhi in a sack and take him back to San Antonio? This isn’t a movie. That’s not how this works. Kawhi’s listed at 6’7, 230. Unless the Spurs sent Tiago Splitter to act as the muscle and shove him in the back of an unmarked van, I think Kawhi was going to be okay in meeting with the folks from the Spurs.

I’m not going to say that just because a team pays your salary they’re entitled to pry into every aspect of your life. Not at all. But if you’ve been away from the team and they want to come meet with you, and check on your physical status, maybe you meet with them, instead of looking to post up in the nearest broom closet. Again, what exactly do you have to hide from them? You have a beef with the team that’s paying, sit down man to man and hash it out. Don’t hide from the man. If true, what a terrible look.   

Again, I’m not sure how much of this is true, but Kawhi and his advisors could not look much worse. And this isn’t going to help him get out of San Antonio. If anything, it’s going to hurt his trade value, because it makes him and the people around him seem like a disaster. 

We’re a couple weeks out from Gregg Popovich getting the USA Basketball team together for a minicamp in Vegas. Will Kawhi be there? Or will he go Rocket Ismail and have his people roll him out, in hamper so no one sees him. I’ve given this guy the benefit of the doubt, but if these reports are true, it’s pretty much impossible to do so at this point.