That has become the preeminent question about Kawhi Leonard‘s future.
He was reportedly unenthused about joining Toronto after the Spurs traded him there, and he also reportedly still prefers Los Angeles in unrestricted free agency next summer. So, debate has mostly centered on whether he favors LeBron James‘ Lakers or the blank-slate Clippers.
But don’t rule out the Raptors.
Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News, via TSN:
Based off of me talking to people within his circle, they’re going to go into this thing with an open mind and give this thing every last opportunity to work. And at the end of the day, if that’s the case, then it would be great if he stays. Obviously, I think part of his mind, yes, let’s keep real: I think he still feels like L.A. might be the destination. At the same time, he plans to go into this thing with an open mind, giving it every single shot in the world to make it work.
That would be the best thing Leonard could do for himself. He might want to be with a Los Angeles team right now, but the NBA doesn’t allow it. He must complete his current contract. So, better to enjoy the next year as much as possible. Maybe he’ll even like Toronto more than expected, even more than Los Angeles. That’d be a great outcome for him, as the Raptors can pay him the most. If not, Los Angeles will always be there next summer.
Paul George is the most famous example of this. When everyone expected him just to pass through until signing with the Lakers, he kept an open mind about Oklahoma City. He enjoyed it so much, he re-signed with the Thunder. Stubbornness about his situation last season would have left him worse off.
That’s the example Leonard should follow up to free agency, and it sounds as if he will.
But I’m still somewhat skeptical of this report. Leonard is so reclusive. Does anyone truly understand his attitude? In the void created by his public silence for the last several month, people with their own agendas and biases are speaking up. Maybe Young has dug through all the noise, but Leonard sure doesn’t make that easy.