Ever since the Raptors swung a blockbuster deal with the Spurs to acquire two-time All-Star Kawhi Leonard, speculation about his interest — or lack thereof — in playing in Canada has been rampant. There have been reports ranging from Leonard having no desire to suit up for Toronto to team president Masai Ujiri saying that the 2014 NBA champion is prepared for next season.
Leonard will hit free agency next summer when his current contract expires. The Lakers have been frequently connected to Leonard as a possible — if not likely — destination for him. However, at least one person believes that Leonard’s tenure with the Raptors will last more than one season. Mark Zeigler of The San Diego Union-Tribune spoke to a close Leonard confidant who believes the superstar will re-sign with Toronto.
“He’s going to fall in love with Toronto – it’s going to happen. He’s not going to leave, I’m telling you,” the source said.
There have been many reports on Kawhi’s alleged frame of mind regarding his new team, but it’s unlikely we’ll get a clear indication on his future unless it comes directly from Leonard. In any case, adding Leonard to a 59-win team that claimed the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference a year ago bodes well for Toronto, assuming the star forward is healthy.
Check out more Leonard notes below:
- ESPN’s Andre Snellings examines the best-case scenario for the both the Raptors and Leonard. While DeMar DeRozan was recognized as a franchise star who improved each season, statistics show that the Raptors outscored opponents by a wider margin when he was on the bench. If Leonard is healthy, his potent combination of elite scoring and defense improves Toronto on both sides of the court, Snellings writes.
- With Leonard joining the Raptors, a lot of unknowns remain, says Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. While the two-time Defensive Player of the Year is viewed around the league as a quiet person who prefers to keep himself out of the spotlight, his enigmatic personality won’t matter as much as his ability to regain his All-NBA form in Toronto.
- If you missed it, here is a rundown of Ujiri’s press conference from Friday, where he addressed Leonard’s arrival and miscommunication with DeRozan.