As has been the case for much of the 2018/19 league year, the Raptors and Clippers appear poised to battle it out this summer for a commitment from Kawhi Leonard, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said today during an appearance on Get Up (video link), referring to Leonard’s upcoming free agency as a “Raptors-Clippers fight.”
According to Wojnarowski, it’s possible that Leonard will take meetings with other teams beyond the Raptors and Clippers, but the star forward is unlikely to seriously consider the Lakers, despite his reported interest in playing in his hometown of Los Angeles.
“Kawhi Leonard’s focused on Los Angeles, but it’s the Clippers, not the Lakers,” said Wojnarowski, who pointed to the Lakers’ lack of a maximum-salary slot as one reason why they’re not a serious contender for Leonard. Additionally, after leading the Raptors to a championship, Kawhi isn’t expected to want to play “third wheel” on a roster that features LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Woj adds.
Leonard enjoyed perhaps the best season of his career in 2018/19, establishing new career highs in PPG (26.6) and RPG (7.3), among other categories, in 60 regular season games for the Raptors. He capped off his year with one of the most dominant postseason runs in recent league history, as his 30.5 PPG and 9.1 RPG in 24 playoff contests helped lead Toronto to its first NBA title.
While there have been whispers all season that returning home to L.A. is Leonard’s top priority in free agency, he has given no indication publicly of which way he might be leaning. The Raptors, with Leonard’s Bird rights, will have the ability to offer him more years and money than any rival suitor.