The Raptors are going to make a season-long pitch to Kawhi Leonard — they have already brought in a friend of his to the coaching staff, they have a passionate fan base, and they should win a lot and be a serious threat to make the Finals out of the East.
Right now, however, Leonard is still leaning toward Los Angeles, something reported by Adrian Wojnarowski in an Ian Begley story at ESPN.
The Raptors would be able to offer Leonard a five-year, $190 million contract next summer. If Leonard leaves the Raptors, he could sign a four-year, $141 million deal with a team with the available salary-cap space.
So far, Leonard’s preference is to sign in Los Angeles with either the Lakers or Clippers next season, sources told Wojnarowski.
This is not new news or a surprise, but here are few thoughts anyway:
• I know Lakers’ fans are convinced he is coming to join LeBron James at Staples Center, but there are legitimate reasons I’ve heard from sources as to why the Clippers must be included in that mix. The Lakers are still the favorite according to most, but the Clippers cannot be left off the list, it is possible he lands there.
• If the Raptors are going to win Leonard over, it won’t happen this quickly. It’s going to be a process.
• How much might the money factor into Leonard’s decision, if at all? What about winning?
• The biggest difference between Leonard and the Paul George situation in Oklahoma City — where his people let it be known before the trade he wanted to go to Los Angeles, but after a season in OKC he decided to stay — is George came in with an open mind. Convincing Leonard to stay is going to be more difficult.