Now that the ticker tape has settled on Toronto after the Raptors claimed their first NBA Championship, the 2x NBA Finals MVP has a big decision to make as he enters free agency. At all costs, the Raptors will do everything in their power to convince Leonard to stay with the franchise and he has the opportunity to extend his player option and earn $21.3 million in 2019-2020. According to multiple sources however, Kawhi’s eyes have been settled on the west coast for well over a year, and that remains unchanged.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski seems to think that Kawhi is zeroed in on Los Angeles, but his preferred destination is to play for the Clippers, not the Lakers. In fact, Woj reports that its uncertain Leonard would even take a meeting with the Lakers at this point. Kawhi doesn’t see himself as a third wheel in LeBron’s latest attempt at rebooting the super-friends.
The King of Ice Cold Takes, Max Kellerman believes if Leonard joins Clip Nation next season, that they’re winning the NBA Championship. Then again vegas now has the Lakers at 3-1 favorites due to Anthony Davis joining LeBron in Lakerland, so Kellerman’s not the only one practicing the arts of prisoner of the moment.
Woj also believes Toronto has an uphill battle to keep Kawhi from joining the Clippers.
When Leonard was traded from the San Antonio Spurs to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan last summer, he was under the impression that this was a one-and-done type of situation. Even after leading the Raptors to their first NBA championship by defeating taking the Golden State Warriors, that idea seems to remain.
Losing Leonard, who averaged 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals in 24 postseason games en route to Toronto’s first-ever NBA title, would be a major blow and disappointment to the Raptors for their title defense next season, even as other core players like Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet are all returning. Danny Green is an unrestricted free agent.
Leonard’s shortlist has come into focus, if he doesn’t exercise his player option by the 29th, he’s headed to the golden coast.