Yet when it comes to understanding these Spurs, there’s a six-degrees-of-Kawhi component that won’t go away until his situation is resolved. The Spurs can offer him a five-year, $215 million extension this July, but there is increasing hope around the league they might trade him instead. His absence is only mysterious because of the breakdown in communication between the sides, with the Spurs having cleared Leonard to return only to see him stay away because his outside medical group — “his group,” as Popovich has repeatedly called them — has advised otherwise. Along the way, there’s an inevitable ripple effect on his teammates — on and off the floor.

More on Kawhi Leonard Extension?

Bobby Marks: Here is what a super max extension would look like for Kawhi Leonard this summer: 19/20 $37.8M 20/21 $40.8M 21/22 $43.8M 22/23 $46.9M 23/24 $49.9M The numbers certainly jump out at you.
Brian Windhorst: [The Spurs] can offer it [to Kawhi Leonard]. They put the $200 million [max extension] out there. Three months ago, I would have put down major money that that would have happened. So now, it's not just whether Kawhi wants to extend his contract, it's whether the Spurs want to offer him the $200 million. Tim McMahon: If the answer there is that they don't, then it could become whether they explore the market and see 'OK, if we're not going to offer [Kawhi] the super-max, do we trade him?' That's a couple decisions down the road, but we're on one now where it's not a crazy possibility.
Can you please tell me that my Spurs are going to be O.K. after this latest Kawhi Leonard news? Marc Stein: Really wish I could, but Wednesday’s proclamation from Gregg Popovich that he’d be surprised to see Leonard return this season is ominous on too many levels. The Spurs have won at least 50 games in 18 consecutive seasons and have posted a winning record on the road going all the way back to the 1997-98 season, which was Tim Duncan’s rookie season. Both of those streaks are in serious jeopardy now — and that’s just the short-term stuff. How deep are the fissures in Leonard’s relationship with the Spurs? Were Pop’s comments intended to try to goad him into coming back? Are the Spurs unwilling to offer the “supermax” contract this summer that Leonard is eligible to receive? Is this all building toward a showdown that winds up getting Leonard — who so many of us thought was the perfect Spur and a future M.V.P. — traded in the off-season? These are the sorts of questions people around the league are asking about San Antonio, which hasn’t endured drama on this level since the early days of Duncan’s career, before the Pop-led Spurs started regularly winning championships in 2003.
Storyline: Kawhi Leonard Extension?
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