San Antonio Spurs

Spurs offseason outlook: Kawhi Leonard contract talks could alter course of franchise

kawhi-leonard-ftr-012218.jpg
Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (Getty Images)

Big issue 1: It could be argued that no team has a bigger issue on its hands entering the offseason than the Spurs, who must figure out whether the frayed relationship with star forward Kawhi Leonard can be repaired and whether the team will offer him the NBA's supermax contract, worth more than $200 million.

If not, the Spurs will put Leonard on the trade block, a move that could send the franchise into virtually unchartered territory: rebuilding.

While most around the league expect that a season spent nursing a quad injury while coaches and teammates looked on helplessly has left too much damage to fix, the Spurs will seek to iron out their differences with their sulking superstar. The team was able to do so with LaMarcus Aldridge last year, so there's hope. But there is a suspicion that Leonard has already decided he wants out, and that he wants to go to home to Los Angeles.

If that's the case, the Spurs' options will be limited, and they will be forced to cobble together some semblance of a reasonable package in return for Leonard.

Big issue 2: We know already that two of the Spurs elders, Tony Parker (who will be 36 when next season starts) and Pau Gasol (who will be 38) are planning on playing next season. Parker is under contract, and Gasol can opt out of his deal, but said he plans to re-sign with the Spurs.

What we don't know is whether Manu Ginobili, who will be 41 in July, will be back. Ginobili has had a considerably reduced role in his last three seasons, but he is still a productive bench player and had some shining moments in the postseason. He said he might take a few months to decide on whether to return.

Keep up to date with all of the latest :tag: news!
Sure Not Now

There's also the dark-horse possibility that coach Gregg Popovich, whose wife, Erin, passed away during the playoffs, could decide he has had enough. Certainly, he has been stung by the controversy around Leonard, an especially difficult situation given his history of great relationships with star players. Popovich has signed on to take over USA Basketball coaching duties, and he could bow out of the NBA while still maintaining a strong connection with the game and its stars.

It's not the first time there has been speculation about Ginobili and Popovich, though, and both keep returning to the NBA grind. Until otherwise notified, we can assume they'll be back next year, too.

Free-agent outlook: Assuming Danny Green opts out of his current contract (one year left at $10 million), he will be the team's top free agent and will command a raise despite posting three of the lowest effective field goal rates of his career in his last three seasons, including 49.0 this year. There will be a market for Green that should push his contract into the $12-14 million range over three or four years, and the Spurs may simply not want to pay that.

Rudy Gay, meanwhile, faces a tougher decision on his player option, which calls for him to get $8.8 million. He resurrected his career as a sixth man with the Spurs, and though he was productive, he didn't play well enough to warrant a pricey, long-term deal. He was happy playing for the Spurs, and opting out might be a decision he regrets.

The young folks: Point guard Dejounte Murray, 21, is the Spurs' brightest young player, a scoring guard who took over the starting role in the second half of the season. Murray needs to add a perimeter shot, but in 48 starts, he averaged 10.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists and is clearly the heir apparent to Parker.

The rest of the Spurs' young players are not all that young - forward Davis Bertans, who will be a free agent, is 24, as is restricted free agent forward Kyle Anderson. Last year's first-rounder, guard Derrick White, is 23 and did not play much this year, though he averaged 20.1 points in the G-League.

The Spurs will have the No. 18 pick in this year's draft, their highest pick entering the draft since they had the No. 1 pick in 1997 (and chose Tim Duncan).

Wait till next year: The Spurs managed to win 47 games this season, a remarkable feat considering they were without their best player and were scraping together makeshift lineups throughout the season - 24 starting lineups in all. That came largely because of the play of LaMarcus Aldridge, but it would be a stretch to expect Aldridge to carry the team the same way next year, especially if Leonard is not back.

If the Spurs do trade Leonard, they'll look to add young players and draft picks to brighten the future of this aging bunch. But that could mean a rough go of things next season, when the Spurs' string of 21 straight postseason appearances figures to be in jeopardy.

More from NBA.com

klay-thompson-081918-ftr-getty.jpg
Thompson: 'I would like to be a Warrior for life'
Gilbert McGregor
chris-paul-james-harden-08192018-ftr-getty
Blogtable: Will Rockets win 60 games in 18-19?
NBA.com Staff
questions-071719-ftr-getty.jpg
5 crucial post-free agency questions
Matthew Blum
larry-bird-081818-ftr-getty.jpg
ON THIS DATE: Larry Bird announces retirement
Scott Rafferty
kawhi-leonard-081818-ftr-getty.jpg
Blogtable: Who will you be watching intently to start the season?
NBA.com Staff
nba_summer-workout-plan_og.jpg
What Anunoby needs to do to take the next step
Scott Rafferty
More News