Raptors Making Progress In Kawhi Sweepstakes?

The Raptors have made “pretty good progress”in their efforts to retain Kawhi Leonard, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said on his podcast. (Hat tip to RealGM)

While the Clippers have long been considered the frontrunners when Leonard hits free agency this summer, the Raptors’ gamble by trading for Leonard last offseason might pay long-term dividends. Toronto’s success in the playoffs thus far and the bonds Leonard has formed with the team has improved the Raptors’ chances of re-signing Leonard.

They put themselves in it,” Wojnarowski said. “And when Kawhi showed up there, I’m not sure he imagined any future in Toronto. I do think it’s a serious consideration now.”

The season-long courtship has been facilitated by the emergence of young forward Pascal Siakam and Leonard’s good relationship with point guard Kyle Lowry. However, the Raptors’ main selling point is their ability to win with the group they have. The Raptors tied their conference semifinal series with Philadelphia 2-2 behind Leonard’s 39-point eruption on Sunday.

“Toronto is selling winning on him,” Wojnarowski said. “They can’t sell geography to him, I don’t think. I don’t think they can’t sell weather on him. There’s nothing they can do about that. When you have that kind of organization, you sell winning and again, the chance to make the most money.”

Leonard gave up an opportunity for a super max deal in the vicinity of $219MM when he asked out of San Antonio and was granted his wish. He can sign a five-year deal with Toronto for approximately $189MM or head elsewhere on a four-year, $141MM contract.

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