A person familiar with the situation says Leonard has told the Spurs that he would like to be traded this summer, the clearest sign yet that the relationship between the team and the All-Star is in disrepair.
The person said Leonard has decided that he is "unhappy with the situation" in San Antonio. The person spoke with The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because neither the player nor the team commented publicly.
Yahoo Sports and the San Antonio Express-News first reported Leonard’s hope for a trade.
Leonard played in only nine game with the Spurs this past season because of a leg injury — officially described as right quadriceps tendinopathy, and the Spurs listed him as out on their injury reports for much of the year citing "injury management." In the 2016-17 season, he averaged a career-best 25.5 points and was third in the MVP voting.
Leonard is due just over $20 million next season, and can become a free agent in the summer of 2019. It’s unclear if the Spurs will go ahead and try to trade him, or if the team will try to patch things up with the 2014 NBA Finals MVP and two-time NBA defensive player of the year.
There were signs of strain in the relationship this past season while Leonard was sidelined.
The Spurs were reduced to giving only cryptic answers about Leonard’s status. While San Antonio was in the playoffs, losing in the first round to eventual repeat champion Golden State, Leonard was rehabbing in New York — which meant that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, when asked for the situation, deferred all comment to "Kawhi and his group."
Teammates also were tight-lipped about Leonard’s situation, even by Spurs standards. "He has to do what’s best for him," Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge told USA Today Sports back in April.
All of Leonard’s nine appearances with the Spurs this season were prior to the All-Star break, none of them coming after Jan. 13.