Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs couldn't agree upon a contract extension to secure the forward beyond the Tim Duncan era, and the reigning MVP will hit restricted free agency next summer, his agent told Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday.
Leonard will become a free agent as the Spurs have a good deal of their players coming off the books. The future will for once seem quite uncertain.
Leonard desired a maximum-level extension instead of taking the kind of pay cut the Spurs' aging trio of star in Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker have in recent years, but San Antonio decided against locking in the long-term investment for now. The Spurs likely will match any offer sheets Leonard signs in restricted free agency, but they retain more financial flexibility by not locking their young star into a max deal this year.
According to Wojnarowski, the team especially wants that flexibility with Duncan and Ginobili potentially retiring after this season.
Kawhi and the Spurs
At 23 years old, Leonard is viewed as the next generation of Spurs leadership, and he backed that expectation with a stellar performance in the 2014 NBA Finals.
The 15th player selected in the 2011 draft has averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds over the course of his three-year career but blossomed within San Antonio's unselfish offensive system during last year's title run. The Spurs forward averaged 14.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists during the postseason, and in the finals, he scored 20 or more points in the final three games of a five-game series, all while acting as the defensive catalyst against Miami Heat forward LeBron James.
The Spurs will have a number of questions next offseason outside of Leonard. Point guard Tony Parker, center Tiago Splitter, forward Boris Diaw, guard Patty Mills and this year's rookie, Kyle Anderson, are the only players under contract beyond the 2014-15 season.
Leonard, they hope, is the backbone to success next year -- even with Duncan, Ginobili and Parker -- and beyond.