Kawhi Leonard Declines 2019/20 Player Option

Raptors star Kawhi Leonard is declining his $21.3MM player option for the 2019/20 season and will test unrestricted free agency this summer, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Leonard will seriously consider re-signing with the Raptors, Haynes adds, with several rival executives believing Toronto is the front-runner for his services on the open market.

Leonard is coming off an historic playoff stretch with the team that saw him average 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals per contest, with the 27-year-old winning his second NBA championship and Finals MVP. He formed a strong bond with his teammates, coaches and fans this season, a positive sign for a franchise coming off its first NBA title.

Toronto is the only team that can offer Leonard a five-year, $190MM maximum-salary contract. The Clippers are expected to be a major suitor for Leonard, as Haynes notes, with the appeal of returning to southern California likely to be a strong factor in Leonard’s decision. A handful of other teams may also secure a meeting with him.

Free agency opens on June 30 at 6:00pm eastern time this year, with the moratorium period lasting until July 6 at noon. After that, teams can officially sign their respective players to contracts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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23 thoughts on “Kawhi Leonard Declines 2019/20 Player Option

  1. tharrie0820

    Wouldn’t it make more sense for kawhi to sign a 2 year contract instead of a 5 year?

    • C-Daddy

      It does, but after watching Durant and Thompson go down with serious injuries in the Finals he might be more inclined to sign a long-term deal, especially after having missed almost all of the 2017-2018 season.

    • osonvs

      You can make the argument that both have their pros and cons. 2 year deal will give him flexibility over his future and he’ll make more later on but you run the risk of making less long term if you suffer serious injury. 5 year deal provides security and guaranteed money but no flexibility if the team decides to change course.

    • johnstodder

      If he signs for 4 or 5 years now, he can get another max deal while still in his early 30s. I don’t know why he’d push that back (unless he doesn’t care about money past a certain level of multi-generational wealth.)

    • C-Daddy

      I don’t really understand that logic – he’s more likely to sign a 1+1 with Toronto than with any other team. Lowry, Ibaka, and Gasol’s contracts (assuming Gasol opts in) are all up after this coming season so Kawhi might be inclined to stick around for one more season to try for another championship.

      • osonvs

        Depending on who you want to listen to, rumours are that Toronto and Masai are saving cap room to make a serious run at Giannis in a couple of years. Masai and Giannis are said to have a very close relationship. If Leonard stays that would be a huge attraction to Giannis to partner up with.

        • KnicksFanCavsFan

          Wow… can you imagine a scenario where a team that just won a championship would stymie that back to back campaign so that it can save money by failing to surround the Finals MVP they JUST signed so that they MIGHT be able to sign him in 2021? I wouldn’t think Masai would put the Raptors in the same situation the Rocket’s are in with Paul, but he should certainly do his best to maximize the teams chances to win with Leonard should he choose to stay the next few years.

  2. A 2/1 makes more sense for him, gives him over 100 mm in guaranteed money, and the chance to hit FA again ahead of his age 30 season (also his 35% max year).

    But Toronto would need to address what happens over the next two seasons, and how they’ll remain a championship contender over both years. If they can do that, I think it’s over before it starts.

  3. greg1

    1+1 in Toronto.

    Comes back to defend the Chip, and then can see what Masai is able to come up with next offseason with all that money off the books. If Masai is able to bring in another Superstar then, Kawhi opts our and re-signs on a longer deal. If Claw doesn’t like the direction, he opts out and leaves.

    Looking more like Kawhi may stay. After the other Raptors left town, Claw has stayed, taking in a Jays game, going to Niagara Falls with the family. Think he’s really giving a full effort to see if he could be happy in TO long term.

  4. johnstodder

    Keep in mind Toronto could offer Kawhi, and he could sign, a 5-year deal now. Doesn’t need to wait until June 30. He wants to hear what other teams have to say.

  5. Dodgethis

    He won in san Antonio then bounced. Why do raptors fans think winning in Toronto means he will stay?

    • C-Daddy

      He won in San Antonio in 2014 and “bounced” in 2018. Not really the same circumstances at all.

  6. jakethesnizake

    Anyone who believes he will re-sign with Toronto has their head in the sand.

    He needs to posture to keep Toronto in to maximize his value for the contract he signs elsewhere in a big market.

    • C-Daddy

      He will sign for the max wherever he goes – what are you talking about?

    • whoneedsfacts

      He is guaranteed a max anywhere anytime buddy, get your head out of the sand. He is considering staying, sorry to whatever team you align with lol

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