Sixers and Celtics didn’t trade for Kawhi out of fear he’d go to L.A.

Kawhi Leonard re-established his spot as one of the top three players in the NBA this past postseason.

With his free agency ahead, though, reports about the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics being reluctant to trade for him last summer have come out.

According to reports from ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, the Sixers and Celtics didn’t trade for Leonard last summer because they felt he would leave in 2019 for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Leonard will decline his player option for the 2019-20 season, and he will become an unrestricted free agent, per Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. Haynes reported that Leonard is ‘seriously considering’ returning to the Raptors.

The Clippers are reportedly the only other team in the hunt to sign Leonard. Leonard, though, could reportedly take a meeting with the Sixers.

Last summer, ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that the San Antonio Spurs wanted Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons in any potential deal. With Embiid and Simmons being two of the Sixers’ best players, the Sixers clearly weren’t going to follow through with that deal.

Lowe also reported that the Spurs didn’t show interest in the Celtics’ trade offers. Still, Boston didn’t want to trade for Leonard without knowing the status of his health — he was coming off a quad injury at the time — or knowing whether he would stay in Boston long term. The Celtics wouldn’t include any of its core players in the deal.

Though neither team went for Leonard, the Sixers are in a better position to remain one of the top teams in the East. The Sixers pushed the Raptors to seven games in the conference semifinals, so they need to focus on bringing Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick back in free agency.

The Celtics will likely have to re-evaluate their long-term plans this summer. Kyrie Irving is likely leaving Boston in free agency, and the same goes for Al Horford.

With Leonard leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship in franchise history, he had one of the best postseasons ever in doing so.

He scored 732 points in the playoffs, setting a record for the third-most points scored in a single postseason. Michael Jordan had the most (759) with the Chicago Bulls in 1992, and LeBron James came after Jordan with 748 in 2018.

Leonard has shown that he’s among the game’s elite, and whether he stays in Toronto or goes to Los Angeles, he and his team will be a tough out in the playoffs.

 

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