The summer of Kawhi Leonard has officially begun the moment the San Antonio Spurs got eliminated from the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors. There’s no more basketball game left to play because at this time of the year the battles will now take place on the negotiation tables.

For Leonard, his eligibility for a super-max contract extension worth $219 million over five years validates his status as one of the game’s best players. The reality is Kawhi indeed is a max-level type of talent. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year and NBA MVP finalist is basketball’s most dominant two-way player, a distinction even LeBron James isn’t worthy of at this stage of his career.

But the Spurs won’t just shell out that amount of money without getting full commitment from Leonard moving forward. Another is there’s no telling how serious Kawhi’s mysterious quad injury. Little is known about the quad, except that it’s bothersome enough for the Spurs star to play just nine regular-season games and spend the majority of the season at a rehabilitation facility in New York.

Still, locking up Leonard tops the list of priorities for the Spurs this offseason. ESPN writer Michael C. Wright reported on Tuesday (April 24) that none other than Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is expected to lead the negotiation with Leonard in what will likely be a last-ditch effort to salvage their relationship.

Failure to find a common ground would most likely be the end of Kawhi’s tenure in San Antonio. Once Leonard hits the trade market, multiple suitors will line up and place their bids with the hope of landing a game-changing star. Potential bidders for Leonard could go as many as seven teams, but only three teams (the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Philadelphia) possess a deep stash of assets to meet the Spurs’ lucrative asking price.

Tough decisions ahead

Unfortunately, the prospect of losing Kawhi isn’t the only major concern in San Antonio. Right now, the Spurs are facing a real possibility of a complete rebuilt with so many core players hitting free agency this summer.

Danny Green, who has been the team’s most consistent shooter and lockdown perimeter defender outside Kawhi, can become a free-agent this offseason by opting out on the final year of his deal worth $10 million.

Rudy Gay is another opt-out candidate ($8 million option) after bouncing back from an Achilles heel injury.

The Spurs will also have to decide on the restricted free-agency of Davis Bertans, Bryn Forbes, and Kyle Anderson. According to Wright, the team will more likely extend a qualifying offer to these youngsters and see how things go in the open market.

The end of an era

Of course, the big blow would be losing anyone of the team’s well-known foundations (Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Popovich), the remnants of the Spurs’ glory days. Even though Ginobili hasn’t made any decision yet regarding his future, Wright thinks this could be it for the 41-year-old hoops legend.

Parker, already a 16-year veteran, still envisioned himself playing for four more seasons but a huge drop-off in production (7.7 points and 3.5 assists) could lead him to take a lesser role and of course a much cheaper paycheck than the $15 million per year he pocketed this season.

And while he still wants to be a Spur for life, Parker seems open to entertaining other options, including playing elsewhere.

Finally, as for the future of Popovich on the Spurs’ bench, no one knows what’s next for Coach Pop. The death of his wife will certainly affect his decision this summer, whether he’ll continue calling plays for the Spurs or riding into the sunset for good.