When the San Antonio Spurs made Kawhi Leonard available after the conclusion of a dramatic 2017-2018 campaign, there were only a handful of teams that were logical destinations.
Since the Spurs were presumably looking to receive back multiple draft assets or proven players in return for the superstar, the Boston Celtics seemed like a natural fit.
Due to the emergence of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier and some seemingly high-value draft picks approaching, the Celtics would seemingly be able to put forth a strong offer for arguably the best two-way wing in the entire league. Also, given the uncertainty of Kyrie Irving's future, it appeared as though Danny Ainge could have been comfortable including him in a potential deal.
In order to land Leonard, the Celtics would have needed to sacrifice their future for the short-term championship window of the upcoming season.
In the end, that didn’t happen, as the Spurs accepted a deal from the Toronto Raptors.
But, that doesn’t mean Boston didn’t try to work something out. In fact, they might have offered all of their upcoming high-value draft assets. However, the Spurs simply weren't interested.
"Rebuilding was just not going to be an option there," said ESPN’s Zach Lowe on his podcast. "They want to remain 'relevant', I think is the word that has been used. They want to remain in the playoff race. They just weren't going to consider offers that were heavy on draft picks and young players.”
Most likely due to Gregg Popovich's legendary career winding down, the Spurs were not willing to even consider a rebuild.
"And by the way, as all the reporting from this sort of trickled in, I think the Celtics offered most of their best draft picks,” Lowe reported. “I don't think the Celtics just offered (and said) 'You could have a bunch of our picks.' I think some of the picks they're owed, at least two of the picks, if not all of them that they own from other teams, including the Kings, Grizzlies and Clippers. I think those were all in the deal. And the Spurs were like 'Nah, we don't want that.’”
Therefore, it’s possible that San Antonio turned down a future first overall pick in order to receive a proven All-Star (DeMar DeRozan) back.
It’s also clear that the Celtics didn’t want to part ways with anyone in their starting five or anyone within their young core.News Now - Sport News