The NBA offseason was thrown for a loop after news broke that Kawhi Leonard was having surgery to repair his partially torn ACL. One of the teams most affected by the news is the Dallas Mavericks. Earlier this month, it was reported the Mavericks were one of teams making a play at Kawhi.
Leonard’s injury makes him a less enticing prospect, but Dallas should still be interested in pairing him with Luka Doncic. If the Los Angeles Clippers don’t retain him, the Dallas Mavericks are favorites to land the two-time NBA Finals MVP.
The Dallas Mavericks have multiple avenues to acquire Kawhi Leonard
Most teams have some interest in Kawhi Leonard, but Dallas is the only team that can realistically acquire Leonard in multiple ways. The Mavericks have multiple expiring contracts, including JJ Redick and Tim Hardaway, Jr.
If Josh Richardson declines his player option, Dallas will have enough cap space to sign Leonard to a max contract. Even if Richardson takes his player option, the Mavs can easily trade him or others to create space.
In the event Leonard doesn’t want to leave the Clippers with nothing, Dallas has enough assets for a sign-and-trade deal. Los Angeles has no negotiating power, so a deal centered around Richardson, Maxi Kleber, and second-round picks might be enough.
More interestingly, the Clippers may be interested in a straight swap for Kristaps Porzingis. Leonard is most likely out for the rest of the season and the Clippers have little cap flexibility, so Porzingis might be their best option to win next season.
As bad as Leonard’s injury is in the short term, it may help Dallas acquire a superstar while getting off a bad contract.