Report: Kawhi considers joining Team USA minicamp

NBA.com Global on Jul 18, 2018 07:01 AM
Report: Kawhi considers joining Team USA minicamp
FILE - HOUSTON, TX - MAY 7: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs stands for a moment of silence for the National Anthem before the game against the Houston Rockets during Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2017 Playoffs on May 7, 2017 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA.com staff report

Team USA will hold its minicamp in Las Vegas next week with 35 players listed as invitees to the event. Among that crew is San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who reportedly demanded a trade from the team earlier this summer and remains in the thick of much of the offseason chatter.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will head up the minicamp in Vegas and, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, Leonard may show up there, too. However, as the duo reports, Leonard's decision to go to the minicamp may be more to show the status of his recovery from injury than anything to do with mending fences with the Spurs:

While the prospects for reconciliation with Leonard are low, the Team USA minicamp will provide another opportunity for Popovich to interact with and speak to the player he once hoped would take over for Tim Duncan as the face of the Spurs franchise.

If Popovich cannot persuade Leonard, San Antonio has to make a trade eventually -- or risk losing him for nothing in free agency.

Among NBA teams and USA Basketball officials, there is a belief that Leonard wants to participate in the camp, but could be dissuaded based on ancillary concerns.

...

The sheer volume of players (35) and coaches (nine) in attendance spares Popovich and Leonard the need to interact much -- if at all -- in these semi-public workout sessions. Nevertheless, there's still a level of intrigue surrounding Popovich and Leonard in this setting and that could create the kind of media frenzy that Leonard disdains and could seek to avoid

Leonard's trade demands started with reports of him seeking a move to the Los Angeles Lakers. Other teams have been mentioned in the mix for Leonard -- the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers and others -- and per Wojnarowski and Shelburne, the Spurs want a fairly large return for Leonard in trades.

Trade talks with several teams continue, with traction slowly, surely gathering with offers for a star insisting that he wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. If the Spurs are losing deal leverage, they aren't operating in a manner that suggests they're peddling a depreciating asset. San Antonio has been determined in demanding a sizable return on Leonard.

Still, the bidding war among Boston, Philadelphia and the Lakers never materialized. The Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Toronto and Washington are among teams who've talked with San Antonio, league sources said.

...

So far, the Sixers have held out three players -- Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz -- in talks. Boston hasn't included five players, including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. The Celtics and Sixers have offered pick-heavy packages that haven't moved the Spurs, league sources said.

ESPN reports that the Spurs are seeking an All-Star-type player, young players with high potential and Draft assets in any trade for Leonard. Wojnarowski and Shelburne also report there has been "less traction" around a possible Spurs-Celtics or Spurs-Sixers deal for Leonard as those teams are well positioned for the future and aren't looking to take a risk trade-wise.

As for the Lakers, writes Wojnarowski and Shelburne, they are playing the long game in trade talks and are confident that Leonard wants to play there and re-sign as a free agent come 2019 should they land him.

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