The Kawhi Leonard saga has activated radars across the league, with a reported rift between the 26-year-old star forward and the San Antonio Spurs potentially concluding on a break up.
For the New York Knicks, a trade for Leonard would signify a change of direction, but one that could set the franchise for long-term stability — only if they’re willing to pay the right price.
“Any deal for Leonard would have to include Kristaps Porzingis, whom the Spurs are said to be head over heels with, as well as a first-round pick,”
wrote Frank Isola of The New York Daily News .
“It’s a steep price, but the addition of Leonard plus available cap space in the summer of 2019 could dramatically alter the course of history for the star-crossed franchise.”
Porzingis and a first-rounder is a steep price to pay, but in the midst of a center hoping to opt out in Enes Kanter and an impending rookie contract max extension for Porzingis, the Knicks could likely stomach the loss if Leonard was willing to make a turn for The Big Apple.
New York is doing its due diligence with the hiring of a new coach, interviewing nine candidates for the job before deciding in one, with former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer as the favorite for the job.
The risk would be there for both teams, as the gravity of Leonard’s injury is still unknown and Porzingis’ recovery from a torn ACL is no joking matter, possibly even missing the entire 2018-19 season with it.
If they trade for Porzingis, the Spurs would be forced to rebuild for the first time in two decades, with veterans like Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Pau Gasol likely out of the picture for this project.