Where Will Kawhi Leonard's New Home Be?

Where Will Kawhi Leonard's New Home Be?

Potential Trade Packages for Superstar Kawhi Leonard
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Kawhi Leonard is a bonafide superstar. Since being drafted 15th overall in 2011 by the Indiana Pacers, and subsequently swapped to the San Antonio Spurs for point guard George Hill, Leonard has been the heir apparent to the Spurs' two-way star throne. Spurs' head coach Greg Popovich has entrusted his forward with all of the duties once held by David Robinson and Tim Duncan, but it appears that trust has been fractured. Following a quadriceps injury that has lingered significantly longer than expected and has held Leonard out for all but nine games, snide comments from teammates and a players-only meeting have been held.

Trading a player of Leonard's caliber -- a tried and true top-five player with team control for another season -- would appear ostentatious, but it's possible the relationship between the franchise and Leonard has been fractured beyond repair following speculation that the Spurs were trying to rush Leonard back before he felt he was ready. Therefore, the following three trade scenarios could be an ideal (or in the Spurs case, as close to as ideal as possible) situation for both sides.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Spurs receive: SF LeBron James, 2020 first round pick (top 3 protected)

Cavaliers receive: PG Patty Mills, SF Kawhi Leonard

This trade could easily be mutually beneficial for each team. The Spurs do this trade because they are able to pair two of the best basketball minds ever: James and Popovich. James would likely elect to stay with the Spurs for the long-haul, not wanting to hurt his legacy with a fourth city-hop. The Spurs this year have been a solid team, making up for the absence of Leonard with dribble hand-offs and countless passes into the post for forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

However, without a true paint penetrator, their offense has looked tired and mundane at times, leading to predictability. James would change all of that, with his ability to drive into defenders and create passing lanes by drawing double teams.

Additionally, this pushes the Spurs title window into a full win-now mode, as San Antonio could chase a title before Manu Ginobili (age: 40 years), Tony Parker (35), and Pau Gasol (37) retire. The defensive potential for a Dejounte Murray-Danny Green-James frontline would be through the roof.

The Cavaliers would be thrilled if this deal is available. Doing this deal means James wants out, but he felt enough appreciation and loyalty to the organization to insist a deal be made with his future team in a sign-and-trade deal. Mills is simply a salary throw-in, but netting Leonard for a player that was on his way out is a true coup. Leonard gives them a much younger superstar to build around.

A core of Leonard, Kevin Love, and whomever they select with their first-round pick they own via the Brooklyn Nets is truly impressive, all with their solid group of role players. Giving up a future pick hurts, but the hope is Leonard signs long-term and the Cavaliers stay successful, making the pick likely to fall in the late 20s.

Portland Trail Blazers

Spurs receive: SG CJ McCollum, C Zach Collins, 2018 and 2019 first round picks (top 5 protected)

Trail Blazers receive: SF Kawhi Leonard, SF Rudy Gay

Portland has to do something if they want to escape the middle-seed, early-playoff exit treadmill. After getting bounced by the Warriors the past playoffs, the Trail Blazers have looked solid this year in running an explosive two-guard juggernaut to a third-place finish in the Western Conference.

However, barring a miracle, this Portland team will likely not make the conference finals, and the issue lies in the overlapping weaknesses of their two dynamic guards, McCollum and Damian Lillard. The Trail Blazers actually have a higher net rating with McCollum off the court, according to NBA.com. Giving up one part of that point-bleeding backcourt for a more defensive-minded Leonard will give the Blazers balance, and a trio to build around along with bruiser Jusuf Nurkic.

CJ McCollum gives the Spurs a chance to jump-start their offense and their rebuild. This trade would likely spell the end of Aldridge's run in San Antonio, as the Spurs get younger with potential cornerstone Collins and two first-round picks. Dejounte Murray and point forward Kyle Anderson would make San Antonio an intriguing rebuild destination, all with player development dynamo Greg Popovich at the helm.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

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The Excitement Of The NBA Playoffs Without Lebron James

The NBA playoffs are among us and it is my favorite time of the year. The time for the NBA to shine is the playoffs, but this year's rating has seen a bit of decline.

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The NBA playoffs are a very exciting time for the typical NBA fan and I sure love nothing more than to kick back and watch the action. The excitement and the number of games on are unreal and they start one after another so every game can be watched without another one interfering with the other. The games have so much more than typical basketball and people are disappointed this year because Lebron James missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The last 14 years he has been dominating the NBA playoffs and this year was different so the ratings are plummeting.

The series are a best of 7 making it a long fun series of games with so much on the line. I have watched many of the games and highlights and have truly appreciated the greatness I am watching. The lower seeded teams have been doing well against the best teams and are giving them a run for the money. We have had a few fun blowout games that are interesting because you are seeing a team dominate the entire game and hit many great shots and make big plays. The good teams are still winning most of the games, but at least we have some close games that come down to the buzzer to make for great competition.

We then have young stars like Damian Lillard and Ben Simmons who have been giving us some amazing stat lines and leading their team to big first-round wins and both making huge highlights so far. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and James Harden have been the big stars having great games and contributing heavily to both their teams and the ratings to make the playoffs fun. Even without Lebron, these guys are still showing us how fun basketball is to watch and play.

The style of team basketball many of these guys are playing with is amazing to watch. I am all about teamwork and there is a new player doing something spectacular and having a standout game every night with the help of their team. The Los Angeles Clippers rallied for the biggest playoff comeback in NBA history by coming back from 31 down against the defending champions the Golden State Warriors. It is nice to see teams like the Clippers, Magic, and Pacers who do not have a standout star play great team basketball. These teams are losing most of their games, but they do not have the talent these other teams have. They are going out and playing well as a team every single night and working to make sure everyone is contributing on offense and defense to have a chance to win.

Damian Lillard even hit a buzzer beater to win the series over the Thunder the other night and it shows us how much of an impact one player can have on the whole game. The excitement of the upcoming free agency period is vastly hyped, but the current teams are so well set up for success that the next 2 rounds of the playoffs will be the ultimate tests for all teams to see who will play each other for the championship.

Everyone thinks the Warriors will once again host the NBA Larry O'Brien Trophy and be the top team in the league for the next year, but there are a few teams that have been quite impressive all season and have the momentum in their favor just as much as the defending champions. There will be plenty of big games to come and I am positive the players will put on a huge showing to make these playoffs memorable for all true NBA fans. Lebron is my favorite player of all time and I love watching him play especially in the finals for the title, but the ratings should still be high due to the great competitive game of basketball and the amazing moments we get to enjoy all throughout the playoffs. I encourage any basketball fan to tune in for these games and I promise you will not be disappointed with any of the games.

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