Kawhi Leonard trade update: we now may know the breaking point in the superstar wing's relationship with the Spurs. During the season, he took public criticism over the handling of his injury from teammates, including star point guard Tony Parker.
Parker returned from a quad injury similar to the one Leonard suffered, and some thought it might be the end to his NBA career.
In March, he was asked about his teammate's prolonged absence. You can read this as encouragement for Leonard, but the fact that Parker said his injury was "a hundred times worse" was probably a tough pill to swallow for Kawhi.
From San Antonio Express-News writer Tom Orsborn:
"I’ve been through it. It was a rehab for me for eight months. Same kind of injury (as Kawhi), but mine was a hundred times worse. But the same kind of injury. You just stay positive."
Apparently that Tony Parker comment was the "last straw," leading to a likely impending Kawhi Leonard trade.
I'm sure it wasn't the only factor in him wanting to leave his NBA home, but according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, it was the deal breaker. The two discussed it on their ESPN show Woj & Low: NBA Offseason Special.
Via Sporting News:
"The last straw for him, I was told was when Tony Parker made those comments about 'my quad injury was 100 times worse.' And if you remember shortly after, Kawhi Leonard left San Antonio and he didn't want to be a part of that media glare there and did not come back until the season was over with," Wojnarowski explained.
Lowe confirmed it, saying, "You've heard that, I've heard that."
Maybe Parker shouldn't have made the comments that he did, but it hardly seemed like something that would drive Leonard all the way to this point. I doubt anyone had any idea at the time just how consequential that stray quote would be for the future of the Spurs franchise.