Toronto Raptors Emerge As Favorites To Acquire Kawhi Leonard From San Antonio Spurs
on Jul 14, 2018 12:01 AM EDT
While the focus is on Los Angeles Lakers as Kawhi Leonard's next destination, the Toronto Raptors emerged as a possible next stop for the San Antonio Spurs All-Star forward.
Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post first floated the possibility that the Raptors could be a potential destination for Leonard. According to Bontemps, Masai Ujiri, Raptors president of basketball operations, could make a mega-deal with the Spurs to boost his team's chances of winning the Eastern Conference now that LeBron James has joined the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bontemps says Ujiri could take his chance by trading either DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry to the Spurs for Leonard, who reportedly wants out of San Antonio due to his fractured relationship with the team.
In addition, Brian Windhorst of ESPN told SN 590 The Fan on Wednesday that NBA executives believe the Raptors are in a good position to make a play for Leonard.
Raptors Betting Favorites to Land Leonard
With these recent developments, the Raptors have emerged as the favorite destination for Leonard, according to online sportsbook MyBookie. The betting site put the Raptors at even money to land Kawhi, with the Spurs next at +400.
The Lakers are +500 to land Leonard while the Los Angeles Clippers are +600. The Philadelphia 76ers are +800, Boston Celtics +800, Milwaukee Bucks, +1000, New York Knicks +1500, Cleveland Cavaliers +2000, Houston Rockets +2000 and the Brooklyn Nets +2500.
According to Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports, the Kawhi-to-Toronto buzz has caused bettors to put their money on the Raptors. Also, Blackburn added that there could actually be a momentum on the Raptors as a potential destination for Leonard that only oddsmakers know about.
Leonard Spotted With Ex-Spurs Teammate
Leonard's next destination will remain uncertain unless his health status is known. Leonard played just nine games last season before the Spurs sidelined him indefinitely due to the quad injury that has bothered him since the preseason. Last season, he averaged just 16.2 points and 4.7 boards.
During the 2016-17 season, Leonard averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 74 games. Due to his all-around performance, Leonard became a finalist for the MVP trophy, which was eventually won by Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Amid trade rumors surrounding him, Leonard was spotted with former Spurs teammate Jonathon Simmons in Las Vegas, the venue of the NBA Summer League. Simmons played two seasons with the Spurs, averaging 6.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game in 133 games.
After the 2016-17 season, Simmons signed a three-year deal worth $20 million with the Orlando Magic.