Nick Wright on Kawhi: If he’s traded, he’ll be the best player traded since Shaq went to the Heat

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Joined by Chris Broussard in studio on First Things First, Nick Wright reveals to Cris Carter and Sarah Kustok why the stakes are so high for the San Antonio Spurs dealing Kawhi Leonard, going as far to compare his potential trade to that of Shaquille O'Neal being traded to the Miami Heat.

- It speaks to what has happened in that relationship. Because that is a $70-plus million decision. So the Spurs can offer him so much more money than everybody else, and they will. Like, they will--

- Yeah, they'll do the supermax.

NICK WRIGHT: --eat that, and give him the supermax. Five years, $219 million. And that's a deal that, if he doesn't take it this offseason, if he doesn't-- let's say, he just plays out the deal, right?

CHRIS BROUSSARD: For the Spurs.

- He has to requalify for it.

- Yep.

- He's no longer eligible for it after this offseason.

- Yeah, so there's a formula.

- Right.

- There's certain things he'd have to--

- All NBA or MVP--

- --accomplish. Yes.

- --Defensive Player of the Year, or something like that. Here's the thing if you're San Antonio, and you can't mend it, and you do realize you are going to trade him. I am-- I do not care what conference I trade him to. Kawhi Leonard will be, if he's traded, the best player traded since Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat. Period. Point blank. Kawhi Leonard is better than Dwight.

CHRIS BROUSSARD: [INAUDIBLE] might sign the trade [INAUDIBLE].

- He's better than [INAUDIBLE]-- I'm not counting LeBron going to Miami--

- Yeah, yeah, yeah.

- --which was a free agency thing. The best player traded in this league in almost 15 years, if Kawhi Leonard is traded. If you're this-- if you are the person giving that player up, you have to simply take the best available offer. You cannot say, well, it's not as good of an offer as LA, but at least he goes out East. If you are the team giving up the best player trade in 15 years in this league, you have to trade him to whomever is giving you the best return.

- I do agree. And I think, at the end of the day, you get to that point. Because I've talked to GMs who are insistent-- you don't trade him to your conference. However, at the end of the day, you do what makes your team best. And-- but right, now I wouldn't go there. Right now, see if an Eastern team will offer more in hopes of winning the title-- Boston or Philly-- and then convincing him to stay. Cleveland-- I heard you guys talking earlier-- if LeBron decides to stay for one year, because he doesn't have to become a free agent, right?

- Right.

- Stay for one year. If I'm Cleveland, I'm gone for Kawhi. And that-- I don't know that San Antonio wants Kevin Love because they got LaMarcus Aldridge. But I'd offer Kevin Love, Collin Sexton--

ANCHOR: Collin Sexton.

- And maybe you can do a three-way, where a team that does what Kevin Love. So you get Kawhi and LeBron for one year, and you go for it. You know both of them will probably leave, maybe even go to LA together in 2019. But those are options out there. And then, if I can't get something I like, look, I'll take Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and, maybe, if you want, Lonzo Ball.

ANCHOR: But you do that on the back end.

CHRIS BROUSSARD: Exactly. I have to explore everything else first.

ANCHOR: Well, who has the leverage then? I mean, you were talking about an elite play-- Nick laid out the elite type of player Kawhi is, but the Spurs are in no rush. If you're an Eastern Conference team-- if you're Philadelphia, if you're Boston-- do you believe you can convince him to stay if you get him there for a year? Or is there taking that risk because you know at the end of one year, he can be gone?

- I wouldn't do it if I was Philadelphia because I don't think he's going to stay. Now if he wins a championship, that's hard to walk away from. But I think at wherever he is traded-- if he's traded to the East-- I think his plan will be, when I'm a free agent in 2019, I'm walking.

Now here's-- the Spurs' one leverage is this-- let's say they don't trade Kawhi, and LeBron and Paul George go to the Lakers. The Lakers cap room is used up. Now the Clippers would have cap room next summer-- they'll have plenty. So they'll be a player. But you could at least eliminate the Lakers from the scenario if you wait it out.