According to ESPN, San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard may participate in the USA Basketball national team’s mini-camp.
The camp, held in Las Vegas, would likely force Leonard into close contact with Spurs Gregg Popovich.
Sports Illustrated announced Popovich as one of nine coaches likely to be present at the camp.
For the San Antonio Spurs, there may be important implications for the close encounter.
Leonard’s camp earlier made it known that the star forward wanted a trade out of San Antonio. As covered by the San Antonio Express-News reporter Jabari Young, Leonard made it clear since he wanted out of San Antonio. Since then, the Spurs have heard multiple offers for Leonard. However, local station KSAT12 made it clear that the Spurs would not trade Leonard without a significant return.
Although Leonard has not played in the NBA for over a year due to injury, he was the runner-up for the MVP award just two years ago. CBS noted that Leonard’s growth in 2016-2017 was significant.
Through a combination of blanketing defense, effective plays off the dribble, and a 3-point shot that made him a potent offensive threat, Leonard grabbed the attention of the league and made it known that he was a franchise level player.
However, since making his trade desires known, Leonard has been hard to find, and few people know the extent of the discussions happening between him and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. As covered by Spurs blog Pounding the Rock, the past year has been rocky between the team and Leonard, whose rehab has been hidden from the team.
With how little of what has been seen of Kawhi, it may make sense that Leonard is planning to attend the mini-camp. Pounding the Rock also noted that nobody actually knows how healthy Leonard is.
Leonard only played nine games this past year, and few teams seem willing to trade away their assets for a player who may not even be entirely rehabilitated.
The USA Basketball mini-camp may be a chance for Leonard to reconnect with Popovich, or it may be a chance for him to show to the league that he’s completely recovered and worth trading for.