Kawhi Leonard Might Do A Paul George And Stay With The Toronto Raptors
on Jul 23, 2018 10:26 PM EDT
Last season, Paul George asked the Indiana Pacers to trade him to the Los Angeles Lakers, but the team instead shipped him to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Many were expecting that George to bolt the Thunder and sign with his hometown team Lakers when he became a free agent this summer. However, George made a shocking move as he agreed to a four-year maximum contract worth $137 million with the Thunder.
Superstar Kawhi Leonard, who was recently traded by the San Antonio Spurs to the Toronto Raptors, might also take the same route as George. Before the trade, Leonard expressed interest in playing for the Lakers, his hometown team as he grew in Moreno Valley and played his college ball at San Diego State.
Leonard Could Fall In Love With Toronto
When he and Danny Green were traded to the Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a 2019 first-round pick, it was initially reported that Leonard was not thrilled with the move and with the idea of playing for the only NBA team outside of the United States.
Leonard recently reported to the Raptors, who posted a photo of the superstar with team president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster. But it remains to be seen if Leonard is willing to stay with the Raptors for the long term.
Leonard has a player option for the 2019-20 season and he could use it to leave Toronto and join the Lakers next summer where he could play alongside LeBron James. However, a source close to Leonard told Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune that the All-Star might be convinced to stay in Toronto for the long-haul and sign a multi-year deal with the Raptors.
According to Zeigler, he was approached by someone who knows Leonard as well as anybody and told him in private that there is a possibility that he superstar will fall in love with Toronto. The person is convinced that Leonard will not leave the Raptors.
Leonard Will Have A Young Coach
Zeigler says Leonard will have a young, creative and innovative coach in Nick Nurse, who was hired to replace Dwane Casey. Also, Zeigler said that Toronto is an ideal place for the usually low-key Leonard, who is trying to avoid the spotlight during his stint with the Spurs.
"[The Raptors] fan base is loyal and passionate but will leave you alone in public," said Zeigler, adding that Toronto is a cosmopolitan city that is ranked by many as the best stop in the NBA.
Also, Leonard could be enticed to stay by a loaded team that won 59 games last season and front office that helps players secure local marketing deals. Rapper Drake, one of the biggest Raptors' fans, could also help convince Leonard to stay.