While they’ll face competition from the Clippers – and likely a handful of other teams – the Raptors feel as if they’ve done all they can to gain Leonard’s trust and to make sure he understands what the future could look like if he returns, according to Kyler. That doesn’t mean Leonard won’t take meetings with other teams, or that he’s a lock to re-sign, but Toronto is at least viewed as one of the two frontrunners for the star forward, along with the Clips.
In his latest article, Kyler explores a few other free agent situations from around the NBA, so let’s round up some of the highlights…
- The Celtics still appear committed to a future with Kyrie Irving, and the idea that Irving and Kevin Durant have already decided to join the Knicks has been shot down by sources close to Irving and to the Knicks, writes Kyler. Still, Kyler notes that most league insiders believe Irving will explore his options on the open market in July, even beyond the Celtics and Knicks.
- Despite all the Knicks-related chatter, Kyler’s sources are adamant that Durant isn’t talking about his future beyond this season. However, Kyler points out that was also the case in 2016, and all of that year’s KD-to-the-Warriors whispers ultimately came to fruition.
- New Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin has said he’ll try to get Anthony Davis – and agent Rich Paul – to buy into a future in New Orleans before seriously exploring the trade market for Davis. According to Kyler, Griffin has made it clear “both publicly and privately” that he wants a long-term commitment from Davis if he’s going to retain him. That probably means that the only two realistic outcomes for AD this offseason are a super-max extension or a trade.
- There’s a growing belief in agent circles that the Clippers, Nets, and Pacers will be more attractive free agent destinations this summer than many league observers may have expected, writes Kyler. L.A. and Brooklyn are more likely than Indiana to land a max free agent, but the Pacers are still worth watching and could also be a player in the Mike Conley sweepstakes if the Grizzlies look to move him, Kyler notes.