9:18pm: Leonard won’t make a decision tonight and may not announce his intentions for a few days, a source tells Jabari Young of The Athletic (Twitter link). Leonard plans to thoroughly review his options with his representatives before choosing one. Contrary to reports, Young states that Leonard hasn’t discussed a two-year deal with any of the three teams involved.
5:11pm: Cris Carter of Fox Sports 1 provides an update on the situation, emphasizing that Leonard hasn’t reached a decision and the Raptors, Lakers and Clippers all remain under consideration (Twitter link). He also cautions not to expect a quick answer.
4:39pm: Day four of the Kawhi Leonard Watch took an unusual turn today, as word leaked out that the private plane belonging to MLSE – the group that owns the Raptors – was bound for Toronto from Los Angeles.
While there was no official confirmation that Leonard himself was on board, Canadian news network CP24 captured video of the plane touching down in Toronto, with its occupants piling into a pair of SUVs and driving downtown to a hotel where president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri had reportedly been spotted earlier in the day — and where a crowd of Torontonians gathered hoping to catch a glimpse of the Finals MVP (video link via James Wattie of CBC Toronto).
We still don’t have any formal updates on whether Leonard will choose the Raptors, Lakers, and Clippers, but if Kawhi’s camp traveled to Toronto for its meeting with the defending champs rather than hosting the team in Los Angeles, that doesn’t seem like a bad sign for the Raptors’ chances.
ESPN basketball analyst Jalen Rose added some fuel to that fire today by declaring during an episode of Get Up (video link) that he has heard with “99%” certainty that Leonard will be re-signing with the Raptors on a two-year deal that would put him in line to reach free agency again when he has 10 years of experience and qualifies for a higher maximum salary.
While Rose has been right about Leonard in the past, he’s not typically a news-breaker, so it’s probably not safe to treat his latest report as gospel quite yet. Leonard’s camp has been tight-lipped throughout the process — until they make an official announcement or leak word of Kawhi’s decision to a trusted reporter, we’re not jumping to any conclusions.
Meanwhile, Danny Green‘s free agent decision will likely be impacted by Leonard’s, since the shooting guard has interest in running it back with the Raptors if his longtime teammate stays in Toronto. Green’s podcast co-host Harrison D. Sanford offered an update in the wake of Rose’s pronouncement, tweeting that the best offer that Green has received so far – in terms of years and money – has been from the Mavericks.
However, Sanford added that Green would strongly consider a return to Toronto – likely on a two-year deal – if Kawhi stays. Green also wouldn’t rule out going to the Lakers, according to Sanford, who notes that the Lakers’ offer could increase if they don’t land Leonard.