Leonard’s trade to the Toronto Raptors was made official this week after he completed a physical examination following an injury-hit season playing for the Spurs last year.
Last month, the 27-year-old informed Spurs executives of his desire to be traded after a season-long feud that erupted over the team’s treatment of a long-standing quadriceps injury.
Leonard had been angling for a move back to his native Los Angeles but the Lakers reportedly refused to meet the Spurs’ hefty asking price.
Instead, they are said to consider Leonard a top target during 2019 free agency when the two-time Defensive Player of the Year could opt out of his current deal to sign with the Lakers for nothing next summer.
In their absence, it was the Raptors who presented Spurs GM RC Buford with the most attractive offer, packaging star player DeMar DeRozan and young big man Jakob Poetl with a 2019 top-20 protected first-round pick to acquire Leonard’s services.
However, in the latest edition of the Lowe Post podcast, NBA insider Zach Lowe claims the Boston Celtics were also desperate to sign the two-time All-Star but suggested the Spurs’ unwillingness to enter a phase of rebuilding led them to reject a sizeable offer from GM Danny Ainge.
“Rebuilding was just not going to be an option there,” Lowe said.
“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.
“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.
“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’.”