I cannot remember a story-line, in my lifetime of watching sports, that is more confusing than this one. Kawhi sustained an injury in the Western Conference Finals of the 2016-2017 season, which kept him sidelined until midway through the 2017-2018 season. He returned for two weeks until he put himself back on the bench mysteriously. He claimed his injury from the season before was misjudged and mishandled. Nobody knows the extent of his injury except for him. Nobody knows if he’s even okay NOW. Did we all just assume that he was milking a minor injury the entire time? Because no one is asking that question even while he’s demanding a trade. If it was so serious of an injury, then why would a team give up a ton of assets for someone who may still be injured? I don’t think he is, but I think that’s a valid question since he sat out the playoffs on top the whole regular season. I seriously have so many damn questions that my head might fall off. If this was anyone else, besides Kawhi, I’d say that player definitely has an agenda. If this was any team, other than the Spurs, I may say that they’re probably in the wrong and mishandled Kahwi’s injury. But non of this adds up. Leonard is known as a quiet and humble guy, so is it possible that he decided to milk this injury into an excuse for why he wants to leave? I think that that’s much more believable than thinking the Spurs, a historically classy and successful organization, somehow did Kawhi wrong.
Aside from all of the theories, Kawhi obviously wants out of San Antonio, and that’s a fact.
So my next question is, what’s the point of contracts in the NBA then? If someone can sit out on their own, even after being cleared to play by team doctors, what’s to stop the next guy from doing the same thing? Regardless of whether or not Kawhi was injured for the entirety of the season or not, someone could do the same thing in a similar situation… Even if that player was not actually hurt at all. Frankly, this has been a phantom injury and it will be until they announce they’re going to have to cut off his leg. Players sign contracts for a reason… They serve as a legally binding agreement that the player must honor until the length of said contract is fulfilled. What happened last season is that the Spurs said “you’re good to go” and Leonard told them “nah.” And guess what, HE WAS STILL GETTING PAID BY THE SPURS. Yeah, I would do that too if I was him. No work and all the reward? I’ll take that for sure! Listen, I’m not saying that all of Kawhi’s injury was BS but maybe it was embellished slightly. Who really knows. I have my theories and others have theirs but mine involve Kawhi not being as gracious and humble as everyone makes him out to be. What this story tells me is that NBA contracts are absolutely meaningless if someone has enough audacity to threaten to sit out an entire season if they aren’t traded. “But Connor, it’s his life and he wants to be somewhere else.” Oh yeah, well then he shouldn’t have made a commitment to the Spurs that he’s not going to uphold. Also, while it’s an awful look for Kawhi, it hurts San Antonio even more. By demanding this trade, Kawhi is effectively eliminating any trade leverage the Spurs have. No other teams want to give up their assets for him, except for the Lakers, because he says that he wants to be in LA for the 2019-2020 season. And that’s a problem for every other team in the league because nobody wants a 1 year rental knowing he’s going to leave after next season. Even the Lakers don’t want to give up much because they know the circumstances and that they basically have him locked up no matter what. Kawhi has screwed the Spurs completely and that organization is frazzled.
I’m just hoping that this doesn’t start to become a trend in the NBA, because demanding a trade seems to defeat the entire purpose of a contract and can really “knee-cap” an entire franchise.
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