Sitting Out Would Be "Career Suicide" For Kawhi

Kawhi Leonard is reportedly unhappy that he was traded to Toronto. Michael Lee's response? Deal with it.

Reiter Than You
July 20, 2018 - 10:14 am

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The Toronto Raptors just traded their best player to the San Antonio Spurs for a guy who could be a one-year rental. 

Trade winner: Spurs, no question. Right?

Maybe, maybe not.

“This is a team that won 59 games last year with DeMar DeRozan, and Kawhi is a better player,” Yahoo Sports senior NBA writer Michael Lee said of the Raptors on Reiter Than You. “As much as people can lament about the loyalty that the Raptors didn’t show in trading one of their greatest players in franchise history, Kawhi is better. He’s an MVP candidate. He’s a Defensive Player of the Year. He’s a Finals MVP. He elevates you just by his play. The last time we saw him play, he led his team to 67 wins and he was up 23 points in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the conference finals. So this is a truly elite player. He can elevate the guys around him. And they proved last year – they have a lot of young legs, they have a lot of talent – they can compete with Boston. They can compete with Philadelphia. They’re right in the mix with those best teams.”

Leonard, however, is apparently unhappy that he was traded to Toronto. There are rumors that he could sit out the entire 2017-18 season in protest.

Lee doesn’t see that happening.

“If he does that, he would be committing career suicide,” Lee said. “At this point, as an NBA team, you’d have to ask what his motivations are and if he even wants to play basketball. Last year, he was given a pass because he had a very mysterious leg injury that no one could really explain and no one could really understand. He missed 73 games. So he’s already basically sat out an entire season, he didn’t come back for the playoffs, and he just left a really confusing (situation). He allowed people to manage and leak information about him. Whether or not it’s true, he didn’t appear to be in control of this whole scenario. So if he decides to take it to the next extreme and sits out for a year, that means you’re giving up two years of your prime to prove what exactly? That you want to play for the Los Angeles Lakers? 

“This is a game that you’re paid a lot of money to play,” Lee continued. “You have a responsibility to the game. It’s bigger than you. If you are so desperate to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, that’s not how this works. You signed a contract for five years. That means that you need to play out that contract. If you want to sit out, fine and dandy. You won’t get paid. But I’m going to question what your motivation is in playing basketball if that’s what you do.”