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July 17, 2018

NBA rumors: Have the Sixers lost interest in Kawhi Leonard?

After weeks of contemplation, it seems that Spurs star forward — and endless trade candidate — Kawhi Leonard has come out of hiding.

A story on from Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne says that Leonard is contemplating participating in a USA Basketball minicamp to be held in Las Vegas next week (a camp LeBron James said he will not attend).

This could be for several reasons, but perhaps the most prevalent among them is his desire to show potential trade partners he is healthy and ready to play at the same level he was at prior to an injury last season.

Which brings us to the Sixers. According to two separate reports Tuesday, interest from Philadelphia — apparently — has slowed to a trickle in a potential deal to bring Leonard to the City of Brotherly Love. 

From the Wjonarowski and Shelburne story:

So far, the Sixers have held out three players -- Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz -- in talks. Boston hasn't included five players, including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. 
The Celtics and Sixers have offered pick-heavy packages that haven't moved the Spurs, league sources said. The Sixers have the most insight into his medical condition because Leonard used New York-based Jonathan Glashow, the Sixers' orthopedic surgeon, as one of his primary outside physicians. 
"In some ways, [Leonard] has made it so the Sixers know more about his recovery than the Spurs do," one rival executive said. 
 Recently, there has been less traction around the possibility of the Celtics' and Sixers' talks with the Spurs. Those teams are well-positioned for the future, and aren't in the marketplace to be risk-takers. And Leonard -- with his murky health picture, his desire to be in Los Angeles -- constitutes a risk on some levels.

Another of ESPN's NBA insiders, Brian Windhorst not only said that the Sixers are no longer interested in Kawhi, but that there is a new front-runner for him in the Eastern Conference: the Raptors.

Windhorst, appearing in the Lowe Podcast, said, “I think they’re in the driver’s seat for Kawhi because I think the Lakers have given up, the Sixers have given up. And with the Nets, Bulls and Hawks spending their cap space, it makes it harder to assemble a multi-team trade. I think the Raptors are in the driver’s seat.”

It doesn't seem like a trade is particularly imminent, so it stands to reason this story will continue to develop as the offseason continues.

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