Is it a reach to try and predict what Kawhi Leonard, the most mysterious superstar player in the NBA, will do prior to the actual start of the NBA’s free agency period on June 30? Yes, yes it is.
Will that stop us here in Toronto from wondering about it? No, no it will not.
As the Raptors maraud their way through the NBA Finals, mired as they are in a 1-1 series against the Warriors, there has always been one note of discord playing in the beautiful symphony of success we’ve been enjoying in this city.
You already know what it is. You can already hear the questions and cajoles. Is Kawhi gonna stay? Will he re-sign? You all won’t be so happy when Kawhi leaves for the Clippers. Toronto had better prepare for the worst. And so on...
The truth is, as many including myself have consistently maintained, the Raptors have always been in a great position to re-sign Kawhi Leonard. If they do indeed with the title, Toronto would present a high-quality competitive situation to just walk away from. On top of that, the team would still be well-positioned to maintain its place at the top of the Eastern Conference, with a stable squad of veterans, some young talent, and a head coach on hand to maximize both.
What’s more, the Raptors have done everything they can to illustrate to Kawhi that his health remains a priority too. Some other team could theoretically hire Toronto’s Director of Sports Science, Alex McKechnie, away from the team — much like the Raptors’ hiring of Kawhi’s pal Jeremy Castleberry from the Spurs — but that doesn’t mean the load management plan in Toronto suddenly evaporates. Hell, it’s being reported that Kawhi has recently bought property in Toronto as well. That all has to add up to something, right?
Well, we’ll just leave this “breaking” bit of news here:
BREAKING:— Odds Shark (@OddsShark) June 5, 2019
The Raptors are now the betting favorite to sign Kawhi Leonard in the offseason.
Knicks +1000 pic.twitter.com/35iyiwH0FE
Do these odds indicate the Raptors will definitely re-sign Kawhi Leonard this off-season? No. There are still a lot of factors in play, and it’s impossible to know the heart and mind of another — especially a person as enigmatic and removed as Leonard.
But given their lead competitors strange tampering bids — e.g. the Clippers trying to deal with Nike to try and buy Kawhi’s Klaw logo back, which I’m sure he finds extremely cool — it still seems to me like the Toronto Raptors are out in front. They’ve shown the ability both on and off the court to be the organization in which Kawhi should want to play a part. After a long history of not being that kind of franchise, that’s a success story in and of itself for Toronto.