By: Sterling Bennett, Creator and Staff Writer at BushLeagueSports
Before you click play on the “Kawhi Leonard laugh” video, recent reports may have hinted at where the Raptors’ star will sign when free agency hits on July 1st.
After the tumultuous 2018 offseason that saw Leonard surprisingly request a trade from the San Antonio Spurs, he now finds himself in a similar situation.
No, Leonard has not requested a trade, but he will have the option to depart for his third team in three years following the 2019 Finals. Whether Leonard and the Raptors win the NBA Finals, which they lead the series 1-0, or not, Leonard will once again have a decision regarding his future to make.
Leonard is not one to speak to the media about much of anything. He has not stated where he will play next season, at least to the public. It is even hard to get more than five words out of Leonard in a post-game press conference. With that said, TruHoops’ Henry Abbott tweeted on Friday, “Count on Kawhi returning to the Raptors, per TrueHoop sources.”
Abbot continued in the same tweet, “Even before the Finals began, we at True Hoops heard from plugged-in sources associated with players and the league – but not the team – that Kawhi would return to Toronto, at least on a short-term deal.”
Long rumored to be heading to either the Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers, the tone has now shifted. The odds of Leonard signing with the Raptors or leaving for the Clippers is 50/50 at the moment, said Fansided’s Ron Agers on the BushLeagueSports Podcast.
Leonard, if leaving, would first have to request a trade turning down a $21 million player option. Once traded he could sign a four-year $108 million contract with his new team. With Toronto, Leonard would be able to sign a five-year $221 million contract due to being super max eligible.
The reports of Leonard remaining in Toronto come a day after Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers was fined $50,000 by the NBA for tampering after comparing Leonard to Michael Jordon on ESPN.
NBA Free Agency begins on July 1st. Joining Leonard as possible stars on the move include Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Khris Middleton, and Jimmy Butler.
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