The Kawhi Leonard situation in San Antonio is a recent example of problems the NBA now faces. Leonard has been dealing with a quad issue this season and has played in only nine games. The sticking point between the team and Leonard is now he has been medically cleared to play and still hasn't done so. The obvious question is why.

The game isn't the thing

One idea bounced around by Sports Illustrated is that Leonard is afraid if he gets hurt when he returns, it could impact his ability to get a $217 million dollar, five year supermax contact. Another idea is that Leonard isn't too worried about losing out on money from the Spurs because shoe endorsement money could be coming his way soon.

Players sitting out while being paid millions because they're concerned about even bigger paydays in the future is a growing problem for the NBA. Competition seems to be less and less a motivating factor for NBA players. Leonard is traveling down a road recently pioneered by Derrick Rose.

What about now?

Rose also sat out games after being medically cleared, citing being able to go to meetings pain free after his playing career is over. Maybe Bill Gates should start working on his jumper for when his business career is over. In Rose's case, he made far more from his shoe endorsements than he did from the Bulls. This trend isn't healthy for the NBA. Who knew so many players would want to go the Al Bundy route and sell shoes?

Tell me sweet little lies

Of course, players aren't the only ones not interested in winning. NBA teams are tanking to the point of being embarrassing. The NBA has evened talked to the Chicago Bulls about resting their starters. Bulls Vice President of Basketball Operations, John Paxon, said the Bulls were resting veterans to get a look at younger players.

Basketball executives are now telling lies that would make used car salesmen and politicians blush.

So, who's the biggest loser?

Obviously, NBA teams with no hope of winning a championship hope to get an optimum pick in the NBA Draft. The idea of just missing the playoffs, or getting an eighth seed and being bounced in the first round of the playoffs is considered dumb.

That thinking is definitely diminishing the on-court product. Who wants to go see a basketball game where both teams want to lose?

Mediocrity can be a necessity, if not a good thing

In economics, having a viable middle class is considered a good thing. The same should be true of the NBA. Having a few super teams and a bunch of dogs doesn't seem like a viable long term strategy. The NBA is going to have to figure out how to reward mediocrity for the good of the league.