Prior to the trade that sent Kawhi Leonard to the Raptors, on SiriusXM NBA Radio, former San Antonio Spurs guard Antonio Daniels commented on the now-ended Leonard saga, saying it may have something to do with Tim Duncan’s retirement in 2016.
Now we all know Duncan is an absolute living breathing saint both as a player on the court and off the court, but he may have had too much of an impact (if ever possible) on the Spurs organization.
A franchise that prioritizes winning above all else, tends to not pamper even the greatest of players that have put on the silver and black. This includes greats like Duncan, David Robinson, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker who all had what it took character-wise to win during an extremely successful two decade run. Not to mention the fact that with Gregg Popovich at the helm, there’s no time to deal with drama in pursuit of what will now be a sixth title.
Daniels stated that this culture of obtaining low-maintenance players who are all in on the no nonsense approach was started by Duncan himself.
“Well that’s called the "Tim Duncan Effect". That’s what having 21 in the locker room, a part of your organization and community does but when Tim Duncan walked out that door, and I’ve said this years ago, when Tim Duncan walks out that door, there is a huge piece of that culture that is walking out with him.”
He is right though. With a player who’s won so many accolades and is regarded as one of the greatest at his particular position, to not have a boasting ego from all of that talent is almost a rarity now-a-days.
The current analyst of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Daniels may have seen this type of disconnect during his tenure with the team from 1998-2002.
“It was right when I got there but I’ll tell you this, this is generational with Kawhi Leonard. What worked with Tim Duncan and David Robinson may not work with Kawhi Leonard.”
Looks like Daniels is 2-for-2 here.
You cannot disregard the generational gap and how big of an impact this era of social media has on the NBA. With a player like Leonard, who’s easily a top-10 player in this league at full strength, may be interested in boosting his brand in a larger market than winning a second ring.
The contract would have been roughly five years for $221 million. That was a lot to sacrifice by Kawhi with his mind set on leaving S.A.