Deal between Spurs and Leonard unlikely before Friday deadline…
San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard is reportedly expected to become a restricted free agent in July with the two parties no closer to agreeing an extension.
According to ESPN, there is a ‘strong likelihood’ that the midnight deadline on Friday for contract extensions will pass without reigning NBA Finals MVP Leonard signing a new deal.
The 23-year-old and the Spurs have been engaged in more serious discussions this week but they are still unable to come to an agreement over a new deal.
As a result, Leonard will become a restricted free agent in July despite being labelled the face of the franchise for some time as the likes of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili edge closer to the end of their glittering careers.
Leonard emerged as a star of the league during the demolition of the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals 2014, but San Antonio are understood to prefer to wait until the off-season to address his future which will give them the opportunity to maintain maximum financial flexibility.
Naturally, Leonard is expected to attract significant interest on July 1, but the Spurs would have the right to match any offer he receives which makes the possibility of him leaving the franchise very unlikely.
If the Spurs extend his contract now, and then either Duncan or Ginobili, or both, decide to retire at the end of the season, then San Antonio’s cap space to replace them would be lessened significantly.
As a result, it is expected that talks will be shelved until the summer, when the Spurs will have a better idea of what the future holds for the roster. However, expect Leonard to sign a new deal with the franchise rather than be allowed to leave.