With NBA rumor season upon us, and with the Boston Celtics never one to shy away from exploring the trade market, Yahoo’s Chris Mannix joined Toucher and Rich to confirm that Danny Ainge is interested in the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard.
“They’re interested,” Mannix said. “They’ve been interested for the last six months or so.”
But as Mannix pointed out, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to pay top dollar for a player that played all of nine games last season and had a massive falling out with one of the most respected coaches and franchises in the entire NBA.
“The Celtics probably have a ceiling that they would like to just stay at,” Mannix noted. “That ceiling, in terms of trade offers, is probably Jaylen Brown, some money filler, and some combination of draft picks they’re willing to give up.
“But the Spurs are not the Sacramento Kings. You’re not gonna get over on them all that easily. They’re gonna play teams off each other in these [trade] talks. They’re gonna take this maybe all the way into free agency, even.”
And while Ainge and the Celtics may be notorious for forcing teams into bad trades, Mannix doesn’t think that the Spurs are joining the Nets and Sixers as teams that the Green have taken to the woodshed via straight-up devastating negotiations.
“I think it’s gonna be a challenge to get [Leonard] without giving up multiple core pieces of your roster,” Mannix admitted. “And I don’t think a guy like Jayson Tatum would be on the table, but might you be forced to give up a Terry Rozier to get him? Maybe. Might you be forced to give up that Sacramento Kings’ pick from next year? Maybe.
“When you’re dealing with [Spurs head coach] Gregg Popovich — and more specifically in this case, [Spurs general manager] R.C. Buford — you’re talking about some of the very best to do their jobs.”
Still, Mannix said that he expects the Celtics to be on this for as long as it lasts.
(You can listen to the complete interview below.)