ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne have co-authored an update on the Kawhi Leonard situation that was published early Tuesday morning. The piece includes a list of nine teams who have reached out to the San Antonio Spurs and the Denver Nuggets were among them.
In addition to the three teams long rumored to be involved—the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers—Denver was listed with the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards.
The article references the bidding war that we all anticipated between those first three teams and how it never quite materialized. That’s left a flicker of hope burning in the chests of those six remaining callers, but none of them are operating with the assurance of Leonard’s commitment beyond the final year on his deal. According to this same report, Portland’s talks have not included either of their star players—C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard—for that very reason.
The longer this drags on, the less leverage the Spurs have here, in theory at least. The door appears left open for Denver to put together an appealing package if none of these teams are willing to offer their best assets. But the Spurs seem to be taking the stubborn route and are refusing to move Leonard for anything less than a stellar return.
For Denver, a team that has infamously struggled to obtain and retain star players, a potential Leonard deal likely carries more risk than reward. It is hard to imagine the Spurs taking a package that doesn’t include at least one of Jamal Murray or Gary Harris. Without any verbal commitment to a re-sign it seems unlikely that the Nuggets are serious players in the Kawhi-stakes.