The Toronto Raptors made the best case they possibly could to get in Kawhi Leonard’s good books. It may still not be enough.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the 27-year-old superstar is “focused on Los Angeles,” but more so on the Clippers than the Lakers with free agency set to begin on June 30.
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Toronto used load management to great effect during the regular season to help Leonard recover from right quadriceps tendinopathy, gave him free reign to explore the bounds of his offensive game, then won the NBA Finals over the Golden State Warriors.
After playing just nine regular season games and missing the entire post-season in 2017-18, Leonard averaged 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals across 60 regular season games before taking his game to another level in the playoffs. In 24 playoff games, he managed 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals and claimed his second Finals MVP award.
He is expected to decline his $21.3 million player option for the 2019-20 season by June 29.
Over the course of Leonard’s time in Toronto, it has become clear that his three primary factors in choosing a team are his family’s happiness, health, and winning. The Raptors couldn’t have done more with regards to the latter two, but it remains to be seen if his family may be happy elsewhere.
With the Lakers set to trade for Anthony Davis on July 6, they will have priced themselves out of the Leonard sweepstakes by lowering their cap space. Wojnarowski also believes that playing third wheel to LeBron James and Davis has no appeal to Leonard.
“The Clippers are poised to be able to lure him from Toronto, this will be a Raptors-Clippers fight down [to] the end.”
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