Spurs concerned that Kawhi's camp has an ulterior motive.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Michael C. Wright published a story today, detailing the tension between the San Antonio Spurs and their franchise star Kawhi Leonard.
The 26-year old forward only played in nine games this season due to a quadriceps injury, despite the fact that the Spurs' medical team had cleared him to return to action late in the season. San Antonio went on to lose to the Warriors in five games during the opening round of the playoffs while Leonard stayed in New York to rehab with his own personal team.
Apparently, the two sides can't even really agree on what the injury is. According to Shelburne and Wright, Leonard's camp believes his condition is the result of a series of contusions to the quadriceps that began with one very deep bruise in March 2016. However, the Spurs have always called the injury "quadriceps tendinopathy," which is a disease of the tendon that has a degenerative effect on the muscle by keeping it in a constant state of exhaustion.
Leonard has one guaranteed year left on his contract with San Antonio, as well as a player option for the 2019-20 season. The Spurs can sign him to a five-year "super max" $200M extension as early as this summer, or they can seek a trade.
According to Shelburne and Wright's report, several league sources expressed that San Antonio believes Leonard's group wants him to play in a bigger market, such as Los Angeles, New York or Philadelphia, which could lead to a trade demand next season.
"Multiple league sources also told ESPN that the Spurs have grown worried that Leonard's group has an ulterior motive to fray the relationship and get Leonard traded to a larger market like Los Angeles (Leonard's hometown) or New York or Philadelphia (Dennis Robertson, Kawhi's uncle, lives in New Jersey)."
According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, Kawhi is expected to meet with Spurs management in the near future and there's a belief that he wants Popovich to "lighten up a little with practice and tweak some things."