The San Antonio Spurs have almost always closed ranks. During Gregg Popovich's wildly successful tenure, there've been very few public issues with the team. The Kawhi Leonard saga is very much new ground for the team.
According to reports, Leonard has told the team that he wants to be traded. The former NBA Finals MVP is eligible for a super-max deal with the team, but that hasn't affected his desire to leave.
For the Spurs part, they obviously want to hang on to Leonard. When healthy, he is a top five NBA player, and was expected to be the cornerstone of the franchise after Tim Duncan's retirement. Instead, a rift has formed.
During the season, Leonard was criticized by teammates Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, the team's old guard that bridge the gap from the halcyon Duncan days. Now, a former Spurs standout is criticizing how Leonard has handled the situation.
Bruce Bowen was on SiriusXM and put Kawhi Leonard on blast earlier this week.
Bowen's full comments:
"Not one time has Kawhi came out and said anything to the effect of 'You know what? I really enjoy being in San Antonio' or 'I can't stand what's going on in San Antonio.' Not one time has he said anything.
Well I think he's getting bad advice. I think what you're starting to see now is, you know, an individual given a certain amount of advice and it's not the right advice. Here it is: you were protected in San Antonio.
I think there's nothing but excuses going on. So, first it was, 'Well I was misdiagnosed.' Look here. You got $18 million this year, and you think they're trying to rush you? You didn't play for the most part, a full season this year. And you're the go-to guy.
You're the franchise and you want to say they didn't have your best interest at heart? Are you kidding me?"
The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly Leonard's destination of choice. There is plenty of speculation that he could join LeBron James in L.A. However, the Spurs have reportedly rebuffed the Lakers' early trade discussions.