Toronto and the rest of the NBA are waiting for Kawhi Leonard
Will he stay or will he go? And if the latter, where? And if the former, great! And when will he let us know? And what does it mean for the Toronto Raptors defending their first ever NBA championship?
Kawhi Leonard is torturing sports fans, reporters and league executives alike right now with his apparent reluctance to make (or at least to announce) a decision about who he'll suit up for next season.
Just realized I wasted a whole day refreshing twitter for nothing...Kawhi wins I give up , goodnight #KawhiToLA— Ben (@ben_hernandez89) July 2, 2019
Analysts been have changing their predictions by the hour based on insider tips and rumours of what the highly sought-after Board Man has been up to in his free time since the NBA kicked off its free agent negotiating period June 30.
Some believe the 28-year-old small forward will stay in Toronto after a wildly successful first season with the Raptors — who, by the way, can offer him the most money with a maximum contract worth $190 million over five years.
Others are banking on the Los Angeles Clippers, who have been courting Leonard hard for weeks, or the Los Angeles Lakers, who almost always get what they want in the end (and have piqued the player's interest, according to Magic Johnson).
The teams offer the L.A. native the promise of beautiful weather, LeBron James as a teammate and the chance to live in his home state again.
Just heard that Kawhi is meeting with the Clippers tonight but the Lakers hold the upper hand, unless Doc work his Magic tonight it’s looking very strong that Kawhi will be in Purple and Gold!!!— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) July 2, 2019
Rumours were swirling over the long weekend that Leonard might even team up with fellow superstar Kevin Durant to play for the New York Knicks.
Durant has since signed with the Brooklyn Nets, where instead he'll form a super-duo with Kyrie Irving.
Reporting w/ @RamonaShelburne: Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard have been discussing free agent scenarios that could include a future with them playing together. For now, there are two clear possibilities for them to sign into the same franchise: Clippers and Knicks. Story soon.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2019
Leonard, who last year was traded to Toronto from the San Antonio Spurs with one year (plus a player option) left on his contract, is the last big-name unrestricted free agent left in the pool at this point, and basketball buffs are growing impatient.
Waiting for the Kawhi news to drop. pic.twitter.com/nP2lCDQ1kK— SportsNation (@SportsNation) July 1, 2019
"The only superstar NBA free agent who didn't agree to a deal on Sunday also didn't agree to a deal on Monday," wrote SB Nation's Tom Ziller Tuesday morning. "And here we all are all the way on July 2 for crying out loud, still waiting for Kawhi to decide between the NBA champion Toronto Raptors, the LA Lakers, and the LA Clippers."
"Everything is relative, and the other big names making their deals before free agency even began (even at its earlier than usual time market this season) has made the Kawhi wait unbearable, even though in reality it's been only a matter of hours."
Reports are that Leonard decision could drag on for another day, maybe two, maybe longer. I don't see Green making a decision without knowing about Leonard because, if that were not the case, he would have signed somewhere by now. https://t.co/XI8G8mLJb8— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) July 1, 2019
Whatever happens, the world will no doubt have plenty to say.
I wouldn't hold your breath awaiting a decision, though: Leonard is weighing his options thoroughly, by all reports, and has yet to even meet with Toronto for the team's final pitch.
Real Time footage of Kawhi Leonard during free agency.— ƧΛIF (@thiswassaif) July 2, 2019
Raptors coach Nick Nurse said on Sunday that team officials would be meeting with Leonard in "in the next day or so," according to the Associated Press.
"It's believed the Raptors will get the last meeting, with Leonard also likely to talk with the Clippers and Lakers, both out of Los Angeles — possibly among other teams — before making up his mind," writes the AP's Tim Reynolds.
"No deals can become final until Saturday, when the NBA's annual moratorium ends. For some teams, the extra time to work through details seems necessary."
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