A year ago, the Toronto Raptors traded DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs and got Kawhi Leonard in return. This move earned them quite a few criticisms, but just a year on, it seems to have paid off quite well for the Raptors – not only did they make their first appearance in the NBA Finals, they even got their first ever NBA Championship win.
Kawhi Leonard and Raptors – The Story So Far
However, it seems the win doesn’t seem to have made any impact on Kawhi Leonard, and he still hasn’t committed to re-signing with the Raptors this summer. There was a brief period of hope and relief for the Raptors fans when Chris Haynes from Yahoo Sports reported that Leonard is considering a stay at Toronto. However, those hopes were shattered when Chris Broussard of Fox Sports said that the Raptor’s chances of keeping Leonard are ‘fading.’
Hearing Raptors chances of keeping Kawhi are fading. A return to SoCal – either team – getting more and more likely.
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 29, 2019
Leonard was viewed by most as a one-year rental for the Raptors in 2018. Apparently, Leonard had already told interested teams that he would be signing with his hometown teams- the Los Angeles Clippers or the Los Angeles Lakers- when he becomes a free agent after the 2018-19 NBA season.
As of now, a move to LA is very much on the cards. Both the Clippers and the Lakers have enough cap space to afford Leonard on a max contract.
However, between the two teams, Marc Stein of the New York Times reveals that it is the Lakers that are the “true threat” at the moment to the Raptors as far as Kawhi Leonard is concerned.
Things change fast in #thisleague: With free agency a day and change away, it's the Lakers who have convinced Las Vegas — and an increasing number of league insiders — that they are LA's true threat to limiting Kawhi Leonard's Raptors career to a single season. Not the Clippers
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 29, 2019
Of course, joining the Lakers is a very attractive proposition for Leonard – it would allow him to line-up alongside two of the best players in the NBA: Anthony Davis and Lebron James. Such a trio would be a force to reckon with, and would automatically make the Lakers a favorite for lifting the 2019-20 NBA championship.